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    05 June 2023

    Remembering Marseille: The Pioneers of Champions League Triumph, Three Decades Later

    The Most Controversial Champions League Win: Marseille’s 1993 Triumph

    It has been over 30 years since the inception of the Champions League, and yet no winner has caused more controversy than the competition’s very first. Marseille remains the only French team to have won this prestigious tournament since its rebranding in 1992-93. In a stunning upset, Raymond Goethals’ side defeated legendary AC Milan in the final.

    Milan boasted an impressive lineup that included Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini, Frank Rijkaard and Marco van Basten. However, a single goal from sweeper Basile Boli secured a historic victory for Marseille with a scoreline of 1-0 at Munich – making them European champions.

    Not even Lionel Messi-led Paris St-Germain could manage what Marseille did back then!

    This achievement would have gone down as one of history’s greatest feats if not overshadowed by a match-fixing scandal that led to their downfall. The same season they won Ligue 1 title – later stripped off due to allegations – they were also relegated from France’s top-flight league.

    An Unbeaten Run Through The Tournament

    In those days when there were just eight teams in group stage and pool winners qualified for finals directly, going through unbeaten was quite an impressive feat indeed! And that is exactly what Bernard Tapie-owned club managed to do during this campaign.

    Tapie poured heavy investment into his squad after suffering defeat against Red Star Belgrade in the European Cup final of ’91. Notable signings include goalkeeper Fabien Barthez and centre-back Marcel Desailly while striker Alen Boksic was brought on board to score goals; he obliged with six throughout the tournament alongside midfielder Franck Sauzee.

    With three wins and three draws in the group stage, Marseille narrowly edged out Scottish champions Rangers to meet Milan in the final. The Italians had won the European Cup back-to-back in 1989 and 1990 before reaching this final as overwhelming favorites.

    The Infamous Match-Fixing Scandal

    However, events that took place prior to their clash with Milan would lead to Marseille’s downfall. They were locked in a Ligue 1 title race against PSG and Monaco which went down to the wire on the season’s final day – staged just a week before they met Milan.

    Marseille visited relegation-threatened Valenciennes needing a win to secure their domestic league title – which they did after a narrow 1-0 victory. However, reports soon emerged that all was not as it seemed; Valenciennes player Jacques Glassmann revealed he had been offered bribes by Jean-Jacques Eydelie – one of Marseille’s midfielders who was his ex-teammate at Nantes – leading criminal investigations into match-fixing allegations against them. Two other Valenciennes footballers, Jorge Burruchaga and Christophe Robert, were also offered bribes while Robert’s wife collected cash from an unknown person linked with Marseille FC.

    Criminal investigations began with severe consequences for French club: they lost their Ligue 1 status along with being stripped off Champions League participation rights for next season; runners-up PSG turned down both titles due to fear of losing subscribers since Canal+ is based where southern France resides. Third-placed Monaco subsequently got entry into the ’93-’94 Champions League tournament instead of them.

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