Samson Siasia’s life ban from football imposed by FIFA has been reduced to five years and backdated to August 2019 by Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
In a ruling delivered on Monday, the Swiss court also dismissed the fine of CHF 50,000 the former Super Eagles coach was ordered to pay by football’s global body.
The 53-year-old, who also coached Nigeria’s U20 and U23 teams, had been handed a life ban from “all football-related activities” and fined CHF50,000 in August, 2019 after being found guilty of accepting to “receive bribes in relation to the manipulation of matches in violation of the FIFA Code of Ethics.”
The former Heartland coach denied any wrongdoing and subsequently filed an appeal with CAS after which a court hearing was scheduled for 19 March, 2020. But the hearing was postponed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The apex sports adjudicatory body has now delivered its ruling on the appeal and has handed former Nantes striker Siasia a reprieve.
After considering Siasia’s appeal and also reviewing FIFA judgement, Cas determined the initial lifetime ban to be too excessive a punishment for a first time offender, and they also defended the removal of the fine.
“Mr Siasia is banned for 5 (five) years from taking part in any kind of football-related activity at national and international level (administrative, sports or any other) as of 16 August 2019,” read a statement from CAS.
“The imposed fine of CHF 50,000 (fifty thousand Swiss Francs) on Mr Siasia is set aside. The Panel determined the imposition of a life ban to be disproportionate for a first offence which was committed passively and which had not had an adverse or immediate effect on football stakeholders, and that a five-year ban would still achieve the envisaged aim of punishing the infringement committed by Mr Siasia.
“The Panel acknowledged the need for sanctions to be sufficiently high enough to eradicate bribery and especially match-fixing in football.
“However, the Panel considered in the particular circumstances of this matter that it would be inappropriate and excessive to impose a financial sanction in addition to the five-year ban, since the ban sanction already incorporated a financial punishment in eliminating football as a source of revenue for Mr Siasia, and considering that Mr Siasia had not obtained any gain or pecuniary benefit from his unethical behaviour.”
The ruling leaves Siasia free to resume his coaching career in September 2024.
Siasia guided Nigeria’s U23 national team to claim silver and bronze medals at the Beijing 2008 and Rio 2016 Olympics respectively.
He also led the Flying Eagles to the final of the 2005 World Youth Championship in the Netherlands, where they lost to a Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina.