The Club

Bernard Tapie, "the boss" that became an icon

In Marseille, we love players, coaches and presidents with strong character. The men who stand out. President of OM in the 80s and 90s, Bernard Tapie, had everything to please the Marseillais. A businessman, singer, actor, television host and politician, Tapie was a historical figure of Olympique de Marseille.

Born 26 January, 1943, in Paris in a modest family, Tapie was a man in a hurry. Ambitious and determined, he built an empire and forged his reputation as a tough man in sport, business and politics. He set up a cycling team in the 80s and won two Tour de France races in a row (1985, 1986). In politics, Tapie was notably Minister of the City from December 1992 to March 1993. The fortune amassed by the Paris native eventually allowed him to take over Adidas before 1990. Surely one of his biggest shots.

Bernard Tapie arrival

But it is in the world of football that Bernard Tapie would always talk of. In December 1985, rumors about the arrival of Bernard Tapie and Michel Hidalgo at OM began to pour in from the press and on television. Edmonde Charles-Roux - wife of Gaston Defferre, the mayor of Marseille - invited Tapie to take over OM. Defferre agrees and Hidalgo responded favorably to the solicitation of the businessman.


Bernard Tapie with d'Abedi Pelé and Jocelyn Angloma

Able to stabilize the locker room, Tapie revolutionized Marseille. He wanted to make OM a great French and European club and hated defeat. During his years at the club, he was at the mastermind of many prestigious recruitments (Papin, Waddle, Mozer, Pele, Deschamps, Desailly, Barthez, Tigana, Giresse, Völler ...). Tapie also brought Raymond Goethals to the bench and the two men have a special relationship, a bit like the relationship between Zatelli and Leclerc.

Tapie's choices were very judicious and OM became an monster, devouring everything in its path. Under the Tapie era, Marseille was crowned French champion five times in a row, from the 1988-1989 season to the 1992-1993 season, and won the Coupe de France in 1989. Les Olympiens played two semi-finals in Europe (1988 and 1990) and two finals in the European Champion Clubs' Cup. Tapie saw his team lose in Bari against Red Star Belgrade in 1991 in the first final but two years later, on 26 May, 1993, the Marseilles won the cup, beating the great AC Milan thanks to a goal of the head of Basil Boli. Tapie has succeeded!

Bernard Tapie an icon

An anecdote sums up his character perfectly. At eight minutes from half-time in the final, Goethals wants to sub out Boli, who’s hurt. But Tapie, present in the stands, prevents it using a walkie-talkie. Rudi Völler blows Goethals out of Boli but the Belgian coach says: "But he does not want the other guy." The rest, we know him ... After the success of his club, Bernard Tapie quickly fell. The VA-OM affair, a match-fixing affair, rang the presumed death bell for les Olympiens and marked the end of the Tapie era. He faced prison and was also accused of tax evasion.

But Tapie was a force of nature and always landed on its feet, able to adapt to any context. He returned to business in the 2000s and returned to OM in 2002 as a sporting director, but the experience was short. As manager of the group Bernard Tapie, the businessman is also majority shareholder of the group La Provence. In spite of the years that pass by and the numerous businesses, Tapie is always in the heart of the Marseilles fans.