Match-fixing. The elephant in the room of world football. In the past week, an African football protagonist has risen to the world football media headlines under grim circumstances. This case can serve as a lesson for others.
On Saturday, FIFA announced that former Nigeria player and coach, Samson Siasia, has been found "guilty of having accepted that he would receive bribes in relation to the manipulation of matches in violation of the FIFA Code of Ethics". The news about the 52-year-old rocked Nigeria. The consequences were grave, even depressing enough not to be mentioned, a ban from every football-related activity for life and a fine of CHF 50,000.
And speaking about the man in question, this was succinctly a case of nemesis catching up with a culprit as the need for his probe was long overdue. Siasia took charge of Nigeria's Flying Eagles in his first managerial spell in 2005 before proceeding to manage the country's Dream Team [the U-23s] in 2007. Three years later, he succeeded Swedish manager Lars Lagerback as the senior team manager but faced was sacked the following year after failing to qualify the Super Eagles for the 2012 AFCON tournament. He returned in 2016.
Yet, it was unclear during which of his coaching stints he had committed the infractions which incurred the ban. Siasia's name was first related to shady deals when a couple of 2008 Olympic Team players have claimed they were dropped from the squad because they could not pay a bribe, during his reign with the U-23s. One of the prominent figures among these was Pahang FA striker, Dickson Nwakaeme. According to BBC Sport, Siasia denied any knowledge or connection of such manipulations. He indicated that he will give the ruling a fight and added that his legal representatives are working around the clock and will issue a statement in the coming days.
In any case, it looks unlikely there is going to be any sympathy from FIFA on his part. The rot has stemmed for far too long, and his punishment will, to some extent, stave off the stench that seems to be hovering on the game administration in the continent. He is not the worst of the bunch, but if the governing body would not be undermined, then the ruling will have to stand.
Nigerian football fans have expressed their disappointment from the man, who had won both Silver and Bronze medals as a coach, at the Beijing and Rio Olympics for the country. Many suggest that he has let the country down. And that is true.