Former Super Eagles coach Samson Siasia has said that the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, supported FIFA to have him banned for alleged involvement in match-fixing in August 2019.

In a recent interview, the 56-year-old, whose ban ends in a few months, said the NFF not only refused to support him but also carried out FIFA’s instruction not to let him know he was under investigation by the world football body.

“Nigeria abandoned me at that time of need; that’s my own take on how this thing played out,” the former Eagles striker and member of the 1994 AFCON-winning squad, said.

“It’s an allegation; they said bribery. What is bribery? Is it not when money changes hands? Was there any proof of that? There were none.

“I spoke with someone who 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, and sign-on fees were, and that was all.

“When FIFA was looking for me, I didn’t even know. I am not affiliated with 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?”

Siasia added, “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 the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport).

“For me to do that, it took like two days. Finding 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 until 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.”

It will be recalled that Siasia’s travails started when he was approached by a match-fixer, Wilson Perumal, in 2010, while seeking a job with an Australian club.

In one of the handful of emails exchanged between Perumal and Siasia and sighted by this paper, the Siasia appeared eager to get the job he was being offered despite some of the illegal clauses being pushed by the match-fixer.

“You have a reputation as a silver medalist coach at the Beijing Olympics. I wish to be transparent with you in this matter. I am going to take over a club. I want to engage you as the head coach. It is an Australia ‘A’ league team.

“You know my nature of business. I will personally bring in 5 Players and dictate the show. You will do your coaching job and play along. I will not drag you into what I am doing. My players will take instructions from me. You will have just close one eye and do your coaching job. There is no relegation in this league. No one can fire you. What amount will u be asking for as salary,” Perumal said in one of his emails to Siasia.

Though seeking to know the extra details of the monetary terms he was being offered, Siasia was also cautious in his approach.

“Am I going to pay taxes on this amount if agreed, and what about signing on fees, accommodation, and car,” Siasia asked.

“Also need to know about flight tickets for me and family. I will be waiting for your soonest response because I have other offers am looking at,” Siasia added in one correspondence.

The evidence established against Siasia by FIFA led to his ban, which effectively prevented him from using his U.S. Soccer Federation coaching license and also barred him from any other involvement in football globally.

Siasia, an Atlanta resident, sued FIFA in August 2021, saying the evidence was “grossly insufficient” and that the ban violated his due process rights under the U.S. Constitution.

However the appeals court said Siasia did not show that FIFA was “essentially at home” in New York, or agreed to be sued there because it banned his use of what Siasia called his “New York” coaching license.

The unsigned decision upheld a Manhattan trial judge’s October 2021 dismissal of Siasia’s lawsuit even as FIFA maintained the claims by the former Nigeria international were meritless.

Siasia is one of Nigeria’s best coaches in history, having guided the U20 and U23 nationals to silver at the 2005 World Cup and the men’s football event of the 2008 Olympic Games.

A few months before coming under the FIFA hammer, Siasia was one of 77 applicants for the then vacant Cameroon national team job.