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Court slashes Siasia’s FIFA ban to 5yrs, cancels $50,000 fine

By Idowu Abdullahi

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has slashed former Nigerian Super Eagles coach, Samson Siasia, life-ban from football to five years after the gaffer was convicted for bribery and match-fixing related offenses in 2019.

The court held that the life ban imposed on the former Nigerian player was disproportionate to his offense and as such, he should serve five years sanction said to be commensurate to his crime.

Aside from slashing the life ban to five years, the court also canceled the $50,000 fine imposed on Siasia by FIFA and backdated the ban to start on August 16, 2019.

“Determined 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, and that a five-year ban would still achieve the envisaged aim of punishing the infringement committed by Mr Siasia,” the court ruled.

Giving details of what transpired that led to the former gaffer’s ban, the court said, “In 2010, a match-fixer tried to involve Mr Siasia as a coach of a club under his strict instructions,” Cas revealed. With the promise of employment benefits, Mr Siasia would have had to always field several players under the control of the match-fixer.

“The negotiations between the match-fixer and Mr Siasia in relation to the conditions of employment were conducted by email over a period of two months. Eventually, the club did not accept or could not afford Mr Siasia’s requests and the negotiations ended.”

Explaining the rationale behind the new judgement following an appeal by Siasia, the court said, “(Cas) 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.”

A former Nigerian international, Siasia won the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations with Nigeria and played in their maiden World Cup appearance later that same year. He played over 50 times for his country while scoring 16 goals.

As a coach, he led his country’s under-20 and under-23 sides to continental success in 2005 and 2015 respectively and also guided the under-20’s to a runners-up finish at the 2005 World Youth Championships (as it was known at the time) in the Netherlands.

Siasia is the most decorated African football coach at the Olympics, winning silver at the Beijing Games in 2008 and bronze at the 2016 Games in Rio.

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