By Jon Essien
Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) has cut the life ban placed on former Super Eagles Coach, Samson Siasia in an alleged match-fixing case to five years, it announced on Monday.
While the ban has been cut short, the world football governing body has not put forward any proof that the top-flight coach committed the crime, as Siasia has constantly maintained his innocence.
Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said a life ban for Samson Siasia was “disproportionate” for a passive offense which did not earn him any money.
It would be recalled that FIFA had expelled Siasia in 2019 for alleged links to notorious Singaporean match-fixer, Wilson Perumal.
Siasia’s playing and coaching career had standout moments for Nigeria against Argentina, having also led Nigeria to two Olympic medals in men’s football, a feat no other local coach has achieved.
At the 1994 World Cup, Siasia scored the game’s opening goal in Nigeria’s 2-1 loss to Argentina in the group stage.
Siasia also led Nigeria’s team to the gold-medal match at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, losing 1-0 to an Argentina team starring Lionel Messi, and in 2016, he led Nigeria’s men’s team to take bronze at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Two years later, Siasia had talks with Perumal about coaching a club in Australia, where he agreed to influence the outcome of games, FIFA alleged.
“With the promise of employment benefits, Mr. Siasia would have had to always field several players under the control of the match fixer,” CAS said in a statement announcing its verdict.
Though Siasia was not hired and no matches were fixed, FIFA’s code of ethics imposes a duty on officials to report potential conspiracies.
CAS judges ruled “the imposition of a life ban to be disproportionate for a first offense which was committed passively and which had not had an adverse or immediate effect on football stakeholders,” the court said.
A FIFA fine of 50,000 Swiss francs ($54,000) was overturned “as inappropriate and excessive” because Siasia had not profited and would not be able to earn money from the sport.
with this latest judgement, his ban now expires in August 2024.