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Again, Siasia knocks NFF over FIFA ban

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Former Super Eagles coach Samson Siasia says the Nigeria Football Federation supported FIFA to have him banned for alleged involvement in match-fixing in August 2019.

In a recent interview with Athlist, the 56-year-old, whose ban ends in a few months, said the NFF not only refused to support him but also carried out FIFA’s instruction not to let him know he was under investigation by the world football body.

“Nigeria abandoned me at that time of need; that’s my own take on how this thing played out,” the former Eagles striker and member of the 1994 AFCON-winning squad, said.

“It’s an allegation; they said bribery. What is bribery? Is it not when money changes hands? Was there any proof of that? There were none.

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“I spoke with someone who was trying to hire me as a coach in Australia. I didn’t know the guy was a match-fixer, but FIFA knew this guy. Why would they allow him to be around any FIFA tournament?

“So, when they found out through emails, our correspondence about how this guy would take me to Australia, I played in Australia, so I felt it would be nice to go back there.

“We talked about how much salaries, transfers, bonuses, and sign-on fees were, and that was all.

“When FIFA was looking for me, I didn’t even know. I am not affiliated with FIFA; their affiliation is with the NFF. So, they went to the NFF and told them not to let me know that they were investigating me. But if they didn’t tell me, how was I supposed to defend myself?”

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Siasia added, “Then they sent me a letter, but it went to my spam. It was two days before the ban that I found out that FIFA was looking for me.

“Then we started to see how we could communicate with them to see how I could have a hearing. But they said the time had elapsed and I should go to the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport).

Read Also: I buy players toothpaste, give them money – Siasia on challenges as U-20 coach

“For me to do that, it took like two days. Finding a sports lawyer in this country is not easy. You can hardly find one. So, we struggled and managed. I can tell you that the boy we took to write the appeal brief for me to get that hearing is suing me up until today.

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“It has been dragging because he said I have to pay €300,000 even though our initial agreement was in euros. I’m still struggling with that one just because Nigerians couldn’t stand up on their feet and check what was going on.”

It took Siasia almost two years to appeal the ban, having eventually done so in June 2021 at CAS, earning him a reduction of the suspension to five years and the cancellation of the additional fine of 50,000 Swiss francs ($54,000).

Siasia is one of Nigeria’s best coaches in history, having guided the U20 and U23 nationals to silver at the 2005 World Cup and the men’s football event of the 2008 Olympic Games.

A few months before coming under the FIFA hammer, Siasia was one of 77 applicants for the then vacant Cameroon national team job.

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