Four current and former Marseille officials, most notably current president Vincent Labrune, have been arrested as French police are continuing an investigation into a transfer back in 2010.
Ligue 1’s current second-leading scorer Andre-Pierre Gignac moved from Toulouse to Marseille in 2010 for a reported $20 million.
Police are investigating a potentially illegal commission that may have changed hands during the transfer.
Labrune, the club’s director financial operations at the time of the transfer, was arrested alongside former president Jean-Claude Dassier, current director general Philippe Perez, and another former president Pape Diouf, the Associated Press is reporting.
The AP cited a police source, who remained anonymous due to the ongoing investigation. The investigation started back in 2011, and a search of the Marseille training ground in 2013 brought back some implicating documents.
UPDATE (9:52am ET): Marseille released a statement this morning, claiming that Labrune and Perez “met with investigators” this morning. It sure sounds like those meetings were of the forced variety.
Gignac is just a goal behind Alexandre Lacazette for leading scorer in Ligue 1, although the club has already admitted he will likely leave on a free transfer this coming summer as his contract is expiring and the club can’t meet his demands. There were rumors of his departure this winter, but with the 28-year-old striker in such good form, Labrune said it is worth keeping him until the end of the season. Increasing salary taxes in France are to blame for his eventual departure, according to Labrune.
Meanwhile, this news comes adjacent to that of a match-fixing investigation of the French second division Ligue 2. Reuters is reporting that the investigation has resulted in the arrests of the president of Caen, Jean-Francois Fortin along with Dijon manager Olivier Dall’Oglio. According to Ligue 1 reporter Jonathan Johnson, a trio of Ligue 2 matches from this past April and May are in question.
The biggest game in question took place on May 13, a 1-1 draw between Nimes and Caen that allowed both Nimes to stay afloat in Ligue 2 and Caen to secure promotion to Ligue 1, where they currently sit in 17th. Nimes president Jean-Marc Conrad is in custody as part of the investigation, according to Reuters.