Siasia quits, says Nigerian Football system ‘disrespectful’
Coach of the National U-23 team, Samson Siasia, says he is quitting the game in Nigeria because of what he describes as “a disrespectful system”.
Siasia coached the Dream Team to a bronze medal at the just concluded Rio Olympic Games. He is the most decorated African football coach at the Olympics having also won a silver medal in Beijing in 2008, is said to have gone unpaid for five months by his employers – the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
He says he has quit football in Nigeria after “a turbulent and incredible campaign in Brazil.”
“I have reached that point where I have to say I have had enough,” Siasia, whose contract expires at the end of the Olympics, told BBC Sport yesterday.
“I’ve gone several months without getting paid, years of being derided and disrespected by the sports authorities in Nigeria, but I am done already.
“It’s sad that after all we went through to get to Brazil and end up winning a bronze medal, the players, coaching and backroom staff never received a ‘thank you’ in appreciation despite a turbulent time at the Olympics” Sisasia added.
Before arriving in Rio, Nigeria’s ‘Dream Team VI’ were held up in Atlanta, USA, because of a problem with the payment for their flight, and they only landed in Brazil just hours before their opening 5-4 win over Japan.
Nigeria also had a troubled build-up to their quarterfinal against Denmark after the players boycotted a training session in a dispute over pay.
Amid all the problems that blighted their campaign, the team showed courage under adversity to clinch the country’s only medal at the Rio games.
“First we had the minister deride us for camping in Atlanta and even denied our existence as a group before the flight problems,” recalled Siasia.
“Players had to embark on a strike to be heard, then the boys kept a good spirit to win an incredible medal, only to be publicly criticised for speaking to the Japanese surgeon who supported and rewarded the team for their brave spirit.
“I’ve taken a deep look at everything and concluded that things need to change for us to progress as a country, not just in football, but our general lives.
“I have fulfilled my obligations as a citizen, footballer and coach; right now I do not want to be involved in the Nigerian football system anymore,” said Siasia.
The BBC has tried to contact the NFF and the sports ministry for comments on Siasia’s decision, but has not received a reply.
Nigeria, the 1996 Olympic football champions, are now the most successful African country in Olympic men’s football, and the first African country to complete an Olympic medal sweep having won a silver medal in Beijing in 2008.