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Siasia, more honourable than FIFA!

By Emeka Obasi

We cannot go to bed until Samson Siasia gets a fair deal from the Court of Arbitration. If FIFA says the Nigerian is as black as granny’s kettle then I dare say the World soccer governing body is darker than all pots in Yenogoa.

Samson Siasia, FIFA
Samson Siasia

FIFA does not have honour at all. The world is just tolerating excesses. We are talking of the Hall of Infamy that includes Sepp Blatter, Michel Platini, Issa Hayatou and Jack Warner among so many others.

I am one Nigerian who will stand by Siasia. I join Chief Segun Odegbami in feeling the pains of our own brother. Match fixing is part of FIFA, that is why no African nation has been able to get to the semi finals of the World Cup.

It is difficult to forget what happened in Gijon on June 25, 1982. It was the Espana ’82 World Cup. Algeria had defeated almighty West Germany 2-1, in their World Cup debut.

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Rabah Madjer and Lakhdar Belloumi shocked the globe with goals. The Germans were defending European champions and were tipped to win the trophy. Many did not look the way of Algeria who could not even win the Africa Nations Cup in Libya earlier in the year.

In the last group match, Germany needed to win to qualify for the quarter finals. A draw with Austria or defeat would take them back home. Algeria would move on if they beat Chile, which they did.

Germany scored in the 11th minute through Harst Hrusbech and that was the end of the game. For 79 minutes, Yinka Craig, of the Nigerian Television Authority said both teams played:”sideways and backwards.”

Austria did not attack, Germany had no reason to defend. It was the worst form of football since the birth of soccer. The crowd chanted ‘Algeria, Algeria’ as the deadening bore progressed.

Alexander Klumper, a 48 year-old German police officer in Oldenberg, near Bremen could have skinned his countrymen alive. He filed a suit challenging their show of shame.

FIFA did not see anything wrong with that disgrace. The Algerians were knocked out on goals difference even when they had the same points, four, with Germany and Austria respectively.

Germany stole their way into the grand finale and thought of victory until Paolo Rossi’s strange hat trick gave Italy the cup. Champions Italy, could not beat Africa’s other representative, Cameroon, in their group clash.

Among other charges, FIFA slammed Siasia for allegedly influencing the results of Super Eagles World Cup matches. That is the trade mark of Zurich. We know our African brother, Hayatou, was once President of FIFA.

Hayatou, a former Long Distance champion of Cameroon, was trained at the NFA cubicle , Lagos by Patrick Okpomo. In 1988, the former became president of CAF and Eagles had to pay dearly for it.

Mauritanian referee, Idrissa Sarr, was all out to be noticed by the new president. The Indomitable Lions had forced Nigeria to a 1-1 draw in their Maroc’88 group encounter. Both teams met again on the last day.

Henry Nwosu put Nigeria ahead with a beautiful header. Monsieur Sarr disallowed the goal. Then he gave ageless Roger Milla a bonus penalty which was converted by Emmanuel Kunde. Cameroon dubiously won the cup. Hayatou was blind to robbery.

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Nigeria won the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games’ 4×400 metres men’s relay gold medal many years after the competition. The International Olympic Commission stripped the United States of the medal when it was discovered that one of their runners was aided by drugs.

FIFA does not play fair even with the Fair Play mantra. Diego Maradona was full of drugs when Argentina beat Nigeria 2-1 at the USA ’94 Mundial. Siasia had put the Eagles ahead .

FIFA punished Maradona but failed to sanction Argentina. The Eagles were denied a medal in their debut. Bulgaria, bullied 3-0 by Nigeria, advanced to beat defending champions, Germany and book a place in the semis.

Italy who narrowly escaped defeat to Nigeria in the second round, got to the final and were unbeaten by eventual champions, Brazil, in full and overtime. Roberto Baggio’s penalty loss gifted the selecao the trophy.

So FIFA should not preach to us. We know Siasia better than those of them who sit in glass houses in Switzerland.

There is nothing wrong with influencing your opponents. It is part of the politics of soccer. And FIFA plays more than politics. I should ask them why CAF did not sanction Nigeria when our Supporters Club traveled to Ibadan in 1980 to support Morocco against Ghana.

The Supporters knew the Black Stars would be tough if they met

Green Eagles in the semi finals. That strategy worked as Ghana lost and Nigeria beat Morocco in the semis.

I know the story of a top soccer official who benefitted from Chief Moshood Abiola’s generosity when Nigeria was preparing to host the 1991 FIFA Under-20 championships.

Abiola, in his generosity, gave out a Peugeot 505 car to his friend. The man asked that the gift be converted to dollars. Abeg, they should leave Siasia alone.

Nigeria could not host the world because on December 8, 1989, the country was banned for two years by FIFA because there were irregularities in the ages filled by Dahiru Sadi, Siasia and Andrew Uwe in the FIFA Under 20 Championships in 1983, 1985 and the Seoul ’88 Olympic Games.

It has not been easy between Siasia and FIFA, though. In 1983, he missed the Mexico Under-20 championships after Coach Chris Udemezue dropped him. An Ibadan money bag had to sponsor Siasia as a spectator.

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Siasia bounced back to win bronze at USSR ’85 two years later. He keeps bouncing back. In 2005, he won the won silver in the same competition as a coach. And after coming back empty handed from Seoul ’88 as a player, Siasia grabbed silver at Beijing 2008 as coach.

Samson Yebowei Siasia, also known as ‘Eusebio’ or ‘Papa German’, was born in Ghana but grew up in Ajegunle, Lagos. He played soccer in Africa, Europe, Asia and Oceania respectively.

Mark my words, Siasia will bounce back. Holy FIFA!

Vanguard

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