Bernard Tapie, businessman who made the success of the Olympique de Marseille football team but whose career was hampered by the scandal – obituary
Bernard Tapie, deceased at 78, was a charismatic French financier and scandal-ridden business mogul who on several occasions had been a pop singer, TV star, actor, racing driver, boater, football executive , writer, populist politician, government minister – and jailer.
Outside of his native France, Tapie is best known as the football boss who bribed opposition players to relax against his club, Olympique de Marseille, in the last French league match before the final of the European Cup in 1993. His club were stripped of their 1992-93 title, kicked out of the 1993-94 Champions League and relegated. Tapie served eight months in prison.
Bernard Tapie, the eldest of two sons, was born in Le Bourget, north of Paris, on January 26, 1943 to Jean and Raymonde Tapie. His father worked as a forced laborer for the Germans in Paris. After the war, he became a finisher in a refrigerator factory in the neighboring suburb of La Courneuve. Bernard, who often claimed to be born around 1946, also liked to claim that he grew up in La Courneuve, a slum – rather than in the lower middle class of Le Bourget.
After a banal stint at the local high school, Bernard claimed to have obtained an engineering degree – a prestigious achievement in France – when in reality he only attended a technical high school offering a preparatory course in engineering. What is certain is that as a schoolboy he was a gifted footballer and gymnast with a physical courage that served him well in the playground and in his subsequent career.