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Marseille arrests and match-fixing probe rock French football

Police are investigating the transfer of Marseille's French forward Andre-Pierre Gignac, seen here on August 12, 2014
Police are investigating the transfer of Marseille's French forward Andre-Pierre Gignac, seen here on August 12, 2014 Bertrand Langlois, AFP

French police took four Marseille officials into custody on Tuesday amid a probe into the club’s transfer dealings, while nine others were arrested as part of an investigation into alleged match fixing on a day of scandal for French football.

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Vincent Labrune, president of Olympique de Marseille since 2008, was taken in for questioning alongside former club presidents Jean-Claude Dassier and Pape Diouf as well as Marseille director general Philippe Perez, sources close to the case told news agencies.

Investigators are trying to find out whether the club leaders took illicit commissions when France striker Andre-Pierre Gignac signed for Marseille from Toulouse for a reported 16 million euros ($20 million). Dassier was the club’s president at the time, with Labrune in charge of all financial operations.

Gignac has scored 10 goals for the club in 13 games this season, helping to propel Marseille to the top of Ligue 1.

In a statement on its website, Olympique de Marseille confirmed Labrune and Perez were being questioned and said "the club and its management has not ceased to cooperate with the courts and to help establish the truth" in the two-year-old investigation.

Caen, Nimes presidents arrested in match-fixing probe

In a separate investigation, president of Ligue 1 club Caen, Jean-Francois Fortin, was among nine arrested Tuesday over suspicions of match-fixing during a game with Nimes while playing in the second division last season.

Nimes president Jean-Marc Conrad was also arrested, a police source confirmed to Reuters.

The game in question, on May 13 this year, ended in a 1-1 draw – a result that meant Nimes avoided relegation from Ligue 2, while simultaneously allowing Caen to virtually secure their promotion into the top flight.

Le Parisien newspaper reported that police were also investigating several other games played by Niles last season for evidence of match fixing.

The two clubs could face expulsion from their respective divisions should the match-fixing allegations be proven, the French League (LFP) president Frederic Thiriez warned at a press conference Tuesday.

“If corruption, match fixing were to be proven, the League would impose the necessary sanctions with the greatest severity and I remind you that it could go as far as the exclusion from the league,” he said.

He added that the LFP and the French soccer federation would join a potential lawsuit as a civil party.

In 1994, Olympique de Marseille were relegated to the second division over a match-fixing scandal dating back to the 1992-93 season, with OM also losing their 1993 French title.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)

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