This month, the Court of Arbitration for Sports reduced the punishment handed down to former Super Eagles striker turn coach Samson Siasia by Fifa from a lifetime ban and a fine of 50,000 dollars to just a 5 year ban. The fine was removed altogether.
The watered-down punishment seems sensible to me and I have to wonder why Fifa came down on Siasia like a ton of bricks to start with.
In a very simplistic term, Fifa found Siasia guilty of ‘accepting that he will receive bribe’ and as a result, they imposed their punishment that has now been attenuated by CAS. If a football official can be banned for life and fined heavily for just accepting to take bribe, then what will be the punishment for an official who actually took bribe, firing squad?
Siasia on his part has yet to deny the allegations against him compellingly. Apparently, email correspondences exist of communications between Siasia and a match fixer whereupon the former Nigeria International was asked to field several players in return for employment benefits.
These alleged emails date over 6 weeks.
Crucially, the players were never fielded and Siasia never received pecuniary or any sort of rewards as the transaction never took place.
Still, Fifa still felt it necessary to punish Siasia heavily just because of the contact between him and the match fixer and also because of bribery intentions linked to the liaison.
But in reducing the lifetime ban and quashing the fine, CAS released a statement stating: “Cas determined the imposition of a life ban to be disproportionate for a first offence 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.”
In removing the fine, CAS said: “Mr Siasia had not obtained any gain or pecuniary benefit from his unethical behaviour.”
Unfortunately,in the eyes of global football stakeholders, Samson Siasia is still guilty of ‘unethical behaviour relating to football’ and this – I am afraid – will hang a dark cloud over him wherever he goes.
His reputation, sadly, remains tarnished because he hasn’t been exonerated by CAS, rather they just came to the conclusion (rightly in my view) that the punishment handed down by Fifa was excessive.
So, Siasia is by no means out of the woods yet. He is still serving his 5 year ban and unfortunately, life will never be exactly the same after coming out of it.
Can he ever be fully exonerated one day? Only time will tell (and I genuinely pray for him).
That is the next battle Siasia will have to fight. In overturning his lifetime ban, he won a sort of victory which is by no means pyrrhic!
But, what he would like is a total vindication. That will be the hardest battle of all!
Copyright notice ©️: unauthorized use of this material is strictly prohibited