According to French publication La Provence, Olympique Marseille has suspended defender Adil Rami amid an internal investigation into his actions this summer. Until today, little had been known about why he was suspended with some suspecting it had to do with his public breakup with actress Pamela Anderson, but the new report has shed a different light on the issue.
The report states that Rami lied to the club about his whereabouts in late May, asking for a training session off so he could attend to “personal concerns” but in reality he had gone to film an appearance on French game show Fort Boyard where he participated in a slime wrestling challenge despite being injured. The training session in question took place May 20, two days after a match against Toulouse in which he was withdrawn in the 74th minute, and he missed the next match – the final league game of the season – due to injury.
The Marseille manager at the time, Rudi Garcia, was apparently unaware of this appearance and believed Rami to be taking care of his personal matters. Fort Boyard is a French game show that focuses on physical and mental challenges.
Rami, a 33-year-old French international who was part of the World Cup winning squad last summer despite failing to appear in a match during the competition, has been banned from taking part in preseason training with the squad and is instead training on his own. According to the report, Rami had a hearing at the training ground with Marseille president Jacques-Henri Eyraud on Wednesday and has yet to be allowed back in training.
Garcia has since been removed as manager and Andre Villas-Boas is the new Marseille boss.
Rami has been with the club since joining from Sevilla in the summer of 2017, making 75 appearances across all competitions, although last season was a struggle for the defender, with injuries leaving him on the sidelines through most of the second half. His recent breakup with Anderson was messy, with the actress accusing him over social media of cheating and abuse while calling him a “monster.”
MARSEILLE, France (AP) French club Marseille has hired Andre Villas-Boas as coach, hoping he can turn the former European champion into a contender again.
The 1993 European Cup-winning club, which is owned by former Los Angeles Dodger owner Frank McCourt, says Villas-Boas has signed a two-year contract.
The 41-year-old Portuguese previously coached Chelsea, Tottenham, Zenit St. Petersburg and Shanghai SIPG.
Villas-Boas takes over a team which last won the French league in 2010. A fifth-place finish this season meant Marseille failed to qualify for European competitions.
Marseille was the Europa League runner-up a year ago but failed to advance from the group stage this season under coach Rudi Garcia.
Olympique Marseille suffered a massive blow in its chase for a Champions League place, losing at Bordeaux by a 2-0 score thanks to goals by Francois Kamano and Nicolas de Preville.
Bordeaux has been a house of horrors for Marseille, and Friday’s result did nothing to change that sentiment. Marseille, having not won at Bordeaux in 42 years, suffered a blow to its Champions League hopes with the defeat as the visitors remained a point back of fourth-placed St. Etienne who now has two games in hand.
A hand-ball by Nemanja Radonjic in the 27th minute put Bordeaux at the penalty spot, and Kamano converted the spot-kick with a stutter step that sent Steve Mandanda the wrong way, easily burying the ball after the goalkeeper found the turf. The second came with 20 minutes to go as de Preville took a Marseille turnover just past midfield and burst forward all by himself, splitting two defenders in the box before slotting home.
Bordeaux defender Pablo was sent off with eight minutes to go for barging into Mario Balotelli off the ball, but Marseille had no response. Ultimately, while Marseille finished with 65% possession and 20 total shots, they put just five of those efforts on target. Meanwhile, Bordeaux miraculously put all seven of its shots on target, sealing the win.
The defeat secures Marseille’s embarrassing and lightning-quick collapse. The club rose from seventh to fourth in just a month, finding themselves in a Champions League place by mid-march thanks to a five-match unbeaten run that included four wins, highlighted by a defeat of St. Etienne. They immediately slumped, winless in the next three matches with two defeats in that span, falling out of the Champions League race as quickly as they’d risen into it.
Bordeaux’s streak of dominance at home over Marseille is something to behold. In those 42 years, they’ve gone 34 matches unbeaten, with 21 wins and 13 draws. It is the longest such streak in French top flight history. In addition, Bordeaux’s opener was the ninth penalty goal conceded by Marseille this league season, the most by any Top 5 team in Europe this season.
It’s never boring with Mario Balotelli.
The Italian lightning rod scored an acrobatic scissor kick to put Marseille 1-0 up on St. Etienne in a huge Ligue 1 match with Champions League implications, and his celebration was deserving of such a spectacular goal.
Flaurin Thauvin’s delivered a low line-drive corner, and Balotelli leg-whipped the ball powerfully into the back of the net from close range. He decided it was time to take a selfie video, and snagged a phone from a cameraman behind the advertising boards to document the big moment. He was all smiles as his teammates surrounded him in celebration.
The game is an enormous match in Ligue 1, with St. Etienne currently sitting in fourth, the final Champions League place. Marseille is in sixth just two points behind, and a win would allow them to snatch fourth place, jumping both St. Etienne and Stade Reims.
The goal for Balotelli is the third in his last four matches for Marseille after returning from a one-match absence. He’s scored four goals for the club since joining in January, helping them to surge up the table from seventh now to fourth pending the outcome of today’s game, with Marseille now 2-0 up at halftime with Florian Thauvin bagging a penalty before the break.
Mario Balotelli sure does love joining a new club.
Balotelli scored in just his second professional match with Inter in 2008. He scored a winner in his first Manchester City appearance in 2010 in Europa League play and bagged a brace in his second Premier League start. He scored seven goals in his first six league matches with AC Milan in 2013. He scored five goals in his first three Ligue 1 appearances for Nice. And now, after signing for Olympique Marseille in the winter transfer window, he is on a tear again.
Despite failing to find the back of the net the entire first half of the season as his Nice career came to a close, in four appearances for Marseille since joining in late January, Balotelli has scored three goals, his latest coming on Saturday as Marseille topped Amiens 2-0 to move above St. Etienne into fourth in the Ligue 1 table.
The 30-year-old Italian is clearly loving life at the Stade Velodrome, as he poked fun at his own teammate with his goal celebration. Florian Thauvin had scored the opener 19 minutes in, but pulled up lame after striking his shot, muting the celebration somewhat. He managed to stay in the game, and when Balotelli scored just six minutes later, he began to mock Thauvin’s injury by pretending his own hamstring was hurt. Thauvin was loving the joke, even joining in to poke fun at himself.
While it’s been an up and down season for Marseille as they fight for their Champions League lives, the club has won three in a row ahead of absolutely critical matches against Stade Rennais and St. Etienne on the horizon. The club then hosts Nice, Balotelli’s old club, where he enjoyed a fabulous start to his time there which served as a sort of revival for the Italian after struggles at Liverpool and AC Milan.
It remains to be seen if Balotelli can enjoy an extended stay at Marseille and prolong his success or if it is just a flash in the pan, but he’s obviously become an important figure in the moment, and Balotelli has always been about the moment.