Siasia takes case against FIFA ban to U.S. federal court

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Siasia takes case against FIFA ban to U.S. federal court

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Siasia takes case against FIFA ban to U.S. federal court by : 4:15 am On August 4, 2021

Samson Siasia

World body bans former CAF president Issa Hayatou for one year
Former Super Eagles Coach Samson Siasia has taken his battle against the five-year ban imposed on him by world football governing body, FIFA, to a New York, United States’ (U.S) federal court, claiming that only the U.S. government can charge him for alleged bribery.

According to Law360.com, Siasia is arguing that FIFA infringed on his constitutional rights when it convicted him of bribery and booted him from the organisation.

The coach, who won Olympics silver and bronze medals with Nigeria’s U-23 teams on two separate edition (Beijing 2008) and Rio 2016 respectively), wants the New York court to overturn his conviction, “a 50,000 Swiss Franc fine returned, his five-year coaching ban reversed and damages awarded for the alleged civil rights violations.”

Siasia is a U.S. citizen, who resides in Atlanta.

The case, Siasia v. Federation Internationale de Football Association, case number 1:21-cv-06516, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Monday.

“In convicting Siasia of bribery, FIFA relied on Swiss bribery law. If any crime was committed, only the FBI or Georgia State Police could investigate and bring charges of commercial bribery,” his suit says, adding, “Georgia does not criminalize commercial bribery.”

According to the report, “Siasia says the soccer international governing body is a state actor that violated his rights to due process under the Fifth and 14th Amendments when it convicted him for his minor role in a wide-ranging conspiracy to fix hundreds of matches by paying off corrupt players and officials. His suit also says FIFA’s imposing the fine and revoking his license constituted ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ barred by the Eighth Amendment.

Siasia was licensed through the United States Soccer Federation, a FIFA affiliate, in 2009. A year later, convicted match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal offered Siasia a coaching job in Australia where he would “play along” and “close one eye” to Perumal’s dealings, the suit says.

In emails sent from Atlanta, Siasia expressed interest, and the two went back and forth on terms but ultimately went their separate ways, according to court papers.

FIFA learned about the messages during a Finnish probe into Perumal and charged Siasia in 2019, yet it failed to properly notify him, his suit says.

“Siasia was not aware of the bribery charge for which that FIFA indicted him until FIFA published to the whole world in or around August 16, 2019, FIFA’s conviction and imposition of a life ban on Siasia from using the coach license issued under the laws of the United States,” the suit says.

On an appeal, the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland upheld his conviction and fine on June 21, but it reduced the ban to five years, finding a lifetime ouster was disproportionate to the offense, Siasia’s suit says.

Siasia is represented by Nitor V. Egbarin of the Law Office of Nitor V. Egbarin LLC.

Meanwhile, FIFA yesterday banned its former interim president Issa Hayatou for one year over an alleged wrongdoing in a commercial deal for African soccer, reports Associated Press.

Hayatou, who was Confederation of African Football president for 29 years until 2017, was banned for one year for a breach of “duty of loyalty” rules, FIFA said in announcing the ruling of its ethics committee.

He was also fined 30,000 Swiss francs ($33,000) though it is unclear how FIFA can enforce payment.

The FIFA investigation concluded Hayatou signed CAF “into an anti-competitive agreement with Lagardère Sport,” a media rights agency based in France.

Hayatou was a long-time FIFA vice president and its stand-in president for several months between Sepp Blatter’s suspension from office in October 2015 and the election of Gianni Infantino four months later.

The 74-year-old Camerounian lost the CAF presidency in 2017 in an election against Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar, whose campaign had been supported by Infantino.

Ahmad is now serving a two-year ban after an investigation of financial wrongdoing by the FIFA ethics committee. That case ended his candidacy to stand for a second term.

The new CAF president is South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe, who was elected unopposed in March after other candidates stood aside in a deal brokered by Infantino.

It was unclear if the FIFA ban will affect Hayatou’s honorary membership of the International Olympic Committee. He got honorary status after his 15-year membership ended in 2016.

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