The Ministry of Youth and Sports has described as untrue claims by former Super Eagles coach Samson Siasia that the Nigerian government deserted him in the heat of his match-fixing case by FIFA.
Siasia recently got a reprieve from a FIFA life ban with a reduction to a five-year ban after an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sports while his 50,000 Swiss Francs fine was quashed.
However, at a press conference held last week in Abuja, Siasia called out the Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, for not “doing enough to see that the Federal Government and indeed President Buhari intervened in his case”.
“This my issue is a government problem, but up till today, we know Buhari is the President. The Minister of Sports, when he came in, I met him, he told me he knew about my problem but they don’t have money and that was it. I thought what he would have done is go to the President.
“I am a legend. I have played, broke my leg for this country, and also coached. If I played for America–yes I have an American passport but I played for Nigeria–if I was like Michael Jordan, they (American government) would take it upon themselves. The Nigerian government has not done well when it comes to my case,” Siasia said at the press conference held in Abuja.
“I am not happy. I don’t know if Buhari does not watch TV or does not know what is going on, or the minister is afraid to approach him. He is a person, you can approach him if things like this happen,” he added.
However, in a statement released on Tuesday, the ministry of youth and sports development said it indeed raised money for Siasia and brought his plight to the attention of individuals and organizations to intervene in his matter.
The statement affirmed that the Ministry, through the Minister, helped raise money that Siasia collected while they also connected him to persons and entities that raised money to assist him in appealing his case at the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS).
“In response to a concerted appeal launched by the Minister, the Governors of Lagos, Edo, and Delta states made available money that was handed over to Siasia at different times while a couple of individuals, at the instance of the Minister, also raised money that was handed to him in cash,” the statement read in part.
The statement by the Minister’s Media Office also said: “The Minister stayed on top of the case by pulling all strings to assist Siasia. In addition to the governors of Edo, Delta, and Lagos, he made an appeal to the Chairman of the Governors’ Forum, Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi.
“In another instance, the Minister took Siasia on a visit to the then Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson to appeal for support for him.
“Siasia’s claim that government did nothing to assist him is untrue, deceitful, and misleading. While there are no budgetary provisions for such incidents, the Ministry and the Office of the Minister gave Siasia all the support that led to the mitigation of his life ban from football-related activities,” the statement said.
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