Former Super Eagles coach Samson Siasia has hit out against former teammates, the sports ministry, his former players and even President Mohammadu Buhari for abandoning him after he was slammed with a life ban from all football-related activities by FIFA.
In 2019, FIFA determined Siasia was “guilty of having accepted that he would receive bribes in relation to the manipulation of matches” and subsequently banned him for life.
He was also fined CHF 50,000 (fifty thousand Swiss Francs).
However, the sanction was reduced to a five-year ban on 21 June following an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) with the court backdating the ban to August of 2019.
In handing Siasia a reprieve, CAS ruled FIFA’s punishment to be “disproportionate for a first offence which was committed passively and which had not had an adverse or immediate effect on football stakeholders.”
The decision means Siasia will be free to return to football in 2024.
Addressing the press following the CAS ruling, Siasia recounted how he neglected by his closest teammates in the national team in his most trying times, describing the experience as the most disappointing experience in the whole affair.
The former U23 national team gaffer claimed he was treated like a pariah by ex-teammates who never bothered to check on him but conspired to ensure he was blocked from revenue-generating activities such as novelty matches.
Siasia was part of the Super Eagles team that won the 1994 Nations Cup alongside Austine Jay Jay Okocha, Emmanuel Amuneke, Finidi George, Sunday Oliseh and others.
“The most disappointing moment? I think that will be when your colleagues that you played with never called you to ask you how you are and all that,” Siasia told reporters at the MKO Abiola National Stadium
“Even the legend games these days, I don’t know what FIFA ban usually does with the legend games. They don’t even invite me, they don’t put me amongst what they are doing. You know these legend games, when we play na small money dey comot that side. But then they put themselves together, they won’t invite World Cup coach. Wetin I do them, I no even know. So I’m very disappointed with that.”
Siasia also dove in on President Muhammadu Buhari and Sports Minister Sunday Dare, saying the actions of the government towards people like himself who have served the country meritoriously for many years left a very bitter taste.
“I want to say something about the Nigerian government,” Siasia began. “This my issue is a government problem. But up till today, we know Buhari is the President, the minister of sports when he came in, I met him. When they banned me, a week or two weeks before he came in. I met him, he said, “Coach I know about your problems.” All he said was, “we don’t have money.” That was it.
“I think what he could have done was to go to the President because I’m a legend, I’ve played, I’ve broken my leg, I’ve coached, I’ve done everything for this country.
“If I played for America; I have an American passport, I’m a citizen, but I played for Nigeria. If I was in America, like Michael Jordan, they’ll take this thing upon themselves. If I was British as well. The government has not done well in my place. I am not happy.
“I don’t even know if Buhari doesn’t watch TV or what is going on, or the minister is scared to approach him. He’s the President, he’s a human being, you can approach him. If things like this happen, the ex-internationals have been neglected, not just me alone about my situation, every one of us. Now they say they gave us houses, after 27 years, we should jump up and clap? 27 years ago! We just face the facts and we can say it, we’re not insulting anyone, but I’m very, very disappointed.”
Siasia resorted to the public for help to raise funds for his CAS appeal. At the time, many wondered why a successful former player and coach had been reduced to public appeals for money.
Addressing those statements, Siasia said he deployed his personal resources to ensure many players including former national team captain John Mikel Obi could have a football career.
“I’ve trained players, if not 30 or 40 players from here, just like they said. The money, 50 thousand dollars they gave, that’s my money, Samson Siasia, from Bayelsa State, but I used it to train players like Mikel and the rest of them. If I didn’t do that, where will those guys be today? People will tell me, “what have you done with your money?” I know what I’ve done, I’ve invested in human beings. I’ve done something for their own people. That’s my investment.
“What else can you do as an individual that has played for this country, and have trained so many players. I think I’ve done the bit that I can for Nigeria, and I’m not happy at all, it pains me.
“How can I fight FIFA? I don’t have that kind of power. If the Nigerian government was involved in what we’re doing, that will shake FIFA for them to do the right thing. Up till today, we’re not even sure what I did. I didn’t even take any bribe, so why am I being banned for another five years? That is the question.”