By Duro Ikhazuagbe
Former Super Eagles Head Coach, Samson Siasia whose hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) was shifted from yesterday till February 3, next year, has restated his confidence in getting fair hearing at the apex arbiter on sports disputes.
Siasia’s appeal against the life ban slammed on him by FIFA was listed for hearing yesterday but was again moved forward due to the Coronavirus pandemic that has taken an upward swing in Europe in the last couple of weeks.
Although Siasia did not leave his Abuja home for the hearing in Lausanne, Switzerland after he was informed of the new date, he however restated confidence of getting the FIFA ban upturned.
“ I believe I will get fair hearing at CAS. I was not given fair hearing nor allowed to defend myself against the allegations leveled against me that were not true,” observed Siasia in a chat with THISDAY.
CAS officially informed Siasia that the hearing listed for Tuesday October 6, 2020 will not proceed due to the recent spike in the Covid-19 pandemic in Europe.
“This hearing was shifted again to February 3, next year. They (CAS) told me the postponement is as a result of the Covid-19 that has taken another upward swing in Europe,” Siasia told THISDAY from his base in Abuja.
The new February 3, 2020 date is the third time the case will be listed for hearing since the former Nigerian Manager challenged the life ban slammed on him last year by FIFA for purportedly accepting to fix a match.
The case was earlier scheduled for March 19, 2020 but was postponed to October 6, 2020 due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
With the lull in the spread of the virus, most Nigerian football fans were already looking forward to the hearing of the case and the final decision that may determine the fate of Siasia as a football coach.
But CAS in the message to Siasia, cited the fresh upswing in Covid-19 cases in Europe that is threatening to cause another lockdowns in some cities as reason why the hearing cannot go ahead as planned.
All things been equal, the new hearing will now hold on February 3, next year at the CAS Court Office, Avenue de Beaumont 2, 1012, Lausanne, Switzerland.
Inability of Siasia to raise the initial 100,000 Swiss franc appeal fee delayed the filing of the case. The GoFundMe appeal initiated on his behalf failed to raise the needed money.
However, after getting over that initial hurdle CAS wrote Siasia on December 27, 2019, inviting him and FIFA representatives and their witnesses to appear at the hearing listed for at 9.30 hours Swiss time on March 19.
FIFA shocked Nigerian football fans August last year when a life ban from all football activities was slammed on Siasia.
In addition, a fine of 50,000 Swiss franc was also slammed on the Nigerian gaffer who was not even aware he was under investigation for allegedly violating FIFA ethical code as the messages sent to his official email were not read by the Bayelsa-born Coach.
There were reports of the Nigerian coach having correspondence with notorious Asian Match fixer, Raj Peruval, a claim Siasia insisted never went beyond offer of a job opportunity in Australia which never materializes.
It is in his bid to prove his innocence that Siasia approach CAS which is the final arbiter on sports disputes globally to adjudicate on the matter
Siasia is perhaps one of Nigeria’s most decorated coaches with the national teams.
Apart from winning silver medal at the Beijing 2008, Siasia also led the Under-23 Dream Team IV to win the country’s only medal (a bronze) at Rio, Brazil in 2016. He had previously claimed a silver medal at the 2005 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in The Netherlands amongst other laurels at continental level for Nigeria.
He is a also a two-time Manager of the senior national team, the Super Eagles.