…Confident of victory at CAS
…Denies any physical contact with Raj Perumal
…Tells Nigerians, your contributions won’t go in vain
…Hearing set for March 19
By Jacob Ajom
On March 19, 2020, former Nigeria international and one-time coach of the Nigerian national team, Samson Siasia has a date with destiny. On that day, the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) will be sitting in Zurich, Switzerland on an appeal filed by Siasia against the Federation of International Football Association, FIFA.
In August last year, the world football governing body, FIFA pronounced a life ban from all football activity on the former Nigeria international, saying he had been found guilty of accepting an offer to receive bribes in order to manipulate matches.
As if that was not enough, FIFA also slammed a fine of CHF 50,000 ($51,000) on Siasia, who led Nigeria U20 and U23 teams to second-place finishes at the 2015 FIFA U20 World Cup and the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Siasia has maintained his innocence. “I am innocent,” he said to our correspondent, explaining that FIFA’s position on the matter was unfounded and presumptuous.
FIFA claims they wrote Siasia twice but he “ignored” both mails, hence the sentence.
“How could they sentence me without hearing from me?” he asked. “I couldn’t check my mail because I wasn’t steady. As a jobless man, I was moving up and down. At times for months, I don’t open my mails. I want a chance to state my case. That is why I am appealing to Nigerians to assist me.”
Siasia’s lawyers promptly filed an appeal with CAS. To hear the appeal, CAS is asking for $250,000(about N90m). That is where the problem lies. Siasia said he does not have that kind of money.
He has gone on social media, to appeal to fellow Nigerians to come to his aid so that he can free himself of all allegations against him as he could not live a life outside football.
He said the weight and effect of what he was going through were no longer bearable. Said he, “Its already affecting me, as we speak, because I cannot work, I cannot do anything. Football is what I have been doing all my life. How would it feel like if I can’t even go out and do anything to support my academy?
I want to get back, I don’t want to be an ex-player that can’t give back to society. This is what I have known to do all my life. What they are accusing me of is not true. I didn’t do it.
“Who is going to fight for me, if I can’t fight for myself, defend myself. Nobody wants to believe me. I want to defend myself, to prove to FIFA that I didn’t do want they are claiming I did.”
Siasia insisted that he had never met the man he was being accused of colluding with to fix matches. He relayed his story on how it all started.
“It was on one fateful day in 2009 when I was going through my email and I came across this email from an unknown source. In the email, they said ‘we have a coaching position in Australia,” asking, “would you want the job?’ I didn’t have to think twice before I said yes.
“I got interested because it was Australia, I played there. So we started this email back and forth, exchanging correspondences and on. We discussed players and how much he was going to pay and all that.
It was a normal football discussion when one wants to get a job and nothing more. I never met the person one on one.”
Continuing, Siasia said it was later discovered that the man he was exchanging correspondences with was a FIFA agent. “When FIFA went through his emails they found our exchanges and concluded that if he had given me the job, we would have used it to fix matches.
How then am I guilty? The job I did not get, no player went anywhere, so how did I fix matches? That is why I want to clear my name. I am innocent.”
The world football governing body confirmed it began an investigation into Siasia on February 11, 2019, which stemmed from an investigation into attempted match-fixing committed by Wilson Raj Perumal.
Siasia remains confident that the truth would set him free. “I am sure of victory if only I can afford the money to defend myself. Some people don’t believe me because of what FIFA has said, but FIFA is run by human beings.”
On the response to his appeal for help, Siasia said although he was yet to hear from either the federal or his state government, “a lot of Nigerians want to help. I have more of those widow’s mite, some N100, others N500, some as low as N50. Yet, there some who have made handsome contributions and would not want their names mentioned. I really appreciate.
“I wrote to the President, the Senate President, my state government yet no response.”
As the March 19 date draws near, the Bayelsa state born former Nigeria international is sure of justice at the apex court, a feeling which propels him to continue to appeal to Nigerians for help. “They should believe me because I will prove FIFA wrong and their contributions won’t be in vain.”