French businessman and politician Bernard Tapie has revealed that he initiated a rumour in 1987 that Ghanaian football legend Abedi Ayew Pele was HIV positive leading to the player’s rejection by AS Monaco during a transfer from Mulhouse.
Tapie made the revelation after he was asked about his jail term served for financial misappropriation and match tampering in a 1993 game between Valenciennes and Marseille.
“I was caught for stuff I did not do and not caught for stuff I did … I’m going to give you an example of something I did without getting caught … Hmm, which one?”
The 74-year-old former Marseille president then went on to confess that he leaked the false information to AS Monaco to get the Ghanaian to sign for Olympique Marseille.
“I told him (Pele) that he will be subjected to a blood test, which is generally done for African players. But he should refuse and say he does not support it,” he said.
He added that he then told an employee of Monaco about the HIV rumour: “I told him ‘you know we have escaped him beautifully. I did not take Abedi Pele. He is HIV positive’, I knew he will betray me and tell Monaco. He did not fail at that. So when Pele refused the medical test, Monaco said: Ah yes, it is true. He is HIV positive, so we won’t take him. And the next day, he signed for Marseille! It’s like that. You should win.”
Abedi Pele went on to win French Division 1 league for Olympique Marseille in 1991 and 1992 as well as the UEFA Champions League in 1993 before leaving Marseille for Lyon in the same year.
52-year-old Pele, officially responded to Bernard Tapie revelation saying “I was completely zoned out with regards to that decision by Olympique Marseille president Bernard Tapie. I was totally oblivious when it comes to that issue but he went too far. I feel he overstepped his boundaries if his real intention was to ward off competition from rivals. I am very glad the truth has been revealed now, making whatever was said impertinent,” he told local radio network.