FIFA instructed NFF not to tell me I was under investigation – Ex-Super Eagles coach, Siasia

Former Super Eagles coach, Samson Siasia, has criticised the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, for being lackadaisical during the period when FIFA was investigating him for match-fixing.

FIFA found Siasia guilty of bribery and alleged match-fixing. The world football governing body hit him with a life ban from all football-related activities in 2019. But upon appeal, the punishment was reduced to five years.

Revisiting the issue in an interview with Athlist, the former Nigeria international whose ban ends in a few months, accused the NFF of failing to help him during the FIFA investigations.

Siasia said: “Nigeria abandoned me at that time of need, that’s my own take on how this thing played out. It’s an allegation, they said bribery. What is bribery? Is it not when money changes hands? Was there any proof of that? There was none.

“I spoke with someone that was trying to hire me as a coach in Australia. I didn’t know the guy was a match-fixer, but FIFA knew this guy. Why would they allow him to be around any FIFA tournament?

“So when they found out through emails, our correspondence about how this guy would take me to Australia. I played in Australia, so I felt it would be nice to go back there. We talked about how much salaries, transfers, bonuses, sign-on fees, and that was all.

“When FIFA was looking for me, I didn’t even know. I am not affiliated to FIFA, their affiliation is with the NFF. So they went to the NFF and told them not to let me know that they were investigating me. But if they didn’t tell me, how was I supposed to defend myself?

“Then they sent me a letter, but it went to my spam. It was two days before the ban that I found out that FIFA was looking for me.

“Then we started to see how we could communicate with them to see how I could have a hearing. But they said the time had elapsed and I should go to CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sports).

“For me to do that was like two days. To find a sports lawyer in this country is not easy. You can hardly find one. So we struggled and managed. I can tell you that the boy we took to write the appeal brief for me to get that hearing is suing me up till today.

“It has been dragging because he said I have to pay €300,000 even though our initial agreement was in euros. I’m still struggling with that one just because Nigerians couldn’t stand up on their feet and check what was going on.”