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30 years after, Nigerians fondly remember football star, Sam Okwaraji



The Chairman, Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Cross River Chapter, Albert Andinam, said on Monday that 30 years after the demise of the football legend, Samuel Okwaraji, the nation still mourned him.

Andinam, who made the disclosure in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Calabar, said Okwaraji died for his fatherland.

He called for better medical attention for the nation’s sports stars, adding that the medical teams and team managers should be up and doing to avoid fielding players that had any form of medical challenge.

According to him, Nigerians will not have suffered such a monumental loss which they still remember if Okwaraji was properly and medically certified fit to play the match in which he slumped.

He opined that the right people should be put in sports administration in the nation adding that the families of late sports heroes were not treated fairly.

This, he said, should be corrected.

“Okwaraji exhibited selfless service and sacrifice which many of our sportsmen today are still exhibiting but these sportsmen need to be encouraged.

“Nigeria has been battered at all fronts but whenever their is a football match, every facet becomes united and when we lose, the disappointment spreads across.

“President Muhammadu Buhari should ensure that square pegs are put in square holes by giving the Minister of Sports to someone who is interested and seen to be contributing to sports development in the nation,” he said.

Similarly, a senior correspondent of the Sun Newspapers in Calabar, Jude Okoro, said Nigeria ran a system where many people who had served the nation meritoriously were not recognised.

Okoro said the nation has not learnt any lesson from the death of Okwaraji and many other fallen heroes in trying to reform the sports sector and make it more productive.

He said Nigerian sportsmen no longer had the spirit of selflessness and sacrifice because they knew that if something happened to them in active service nothing would be done for their families.

“The story has not changed after 30 years; we saw how Stephen Keshi died and Samson Siasia’s mother was abducted and up till now no one is talking about them.

“Things like these have made our sportsmen to over commercialise sports.

“They simply say if you need us, you pay but if you don’t need us, allow us to go play for other nations,” he said.

He added that attitudinal change was required in the nation and the Nigerian leadership must imbibe the culture of a reward system for those who had served the country diligently.

NAN reports that Samuel Okwaraji was a Nigerian footballer and doctorate degree student of law of the University of Rome before his death.

Born on May 19, 1964, Okwaraji slumped during a World Cup qualifying match in Lagos between Nigeria and Angola on August 12, 1989 and later died in the hospital.


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Real Madrid: What Zidane said of Bale, Modric’s red card, 3-1 victory over Celta Vigo



Real Madrid manager, Zinedine Zidane, has insisted that winger, Gareth Bale is going to stay at the club following his side’s La Liga 3-1 victory over Celta Vigo on Saturday.

He also said that the red card midfielder, Luka Modric had during the match, will not affect his side’s midfield in their next league game against Valladolid.

Zidane, however, said his players did well to get all three points against Celta Vigo.

Goals from Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos and Lucas Vazquez gave the Los Blancos all three points against Celta Vigo.

“Bale is going to stay. Every single player we have here gives us reasons to think positively about the team,” Zidane told reporters after the match.

“We have to focus on our current season. Hazard’s injury is very bad luck and it did not change the plans we had for Bale. Gareth, James and everybody who’s with us will defend this shirt as it deserves to be defended.

“We completed a very good game from the get go. Also when we were down to 10 men. We struggled to get this result and we’re satisfied and happy. There won’t be many teams capable of winning here. Our preseason was tough but we worked well knowing that the important thing was the real competition.”

Zidane added: “It’s tough to play away and we played a complete game. We did well all game long and I appreciate the effort everyone put in. Vini and Gareth’s defensive work was crucial, and the same can be said about Lucas and Isco’s. Everyone played well defensively and we know what we can do offensively.

“We are not worried about Modric’s red card. We will handle the season with what we have. We have the players to take care of it.”

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Siasia reacts on FIFA ban



Former Super Eagles coach Samson Siasia on Saturday appealed for calm over his life ban by the world football governing body, FIFA, on Friday.

Siasia was banned for life from the game following a match-fixing probe by FIFA.

Siasia, who spoke to journalists in Abuja through an associate, Opukiri Jones-Ere, at the main bowl of the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, said the matter was currently being looked into by his lawyer.

The former Super Eagles forward said he was hopeful of a positive conclusion of the matter.

“We want to please plead with everyone to be calm as the issue has been handed over to a lawyer and he is looking at the case.

“So, at this moment, Siasia will be unavailable to speak to the press.

“I want to also appeal to you all to be patient with us, considering the fact that he is already going through so much stress with regards to his mother’s kidnap which we are dealing with at the moment.

“We appreciate you all for your concerns and solidarity messages which have received from the onset of this situation.

“So, my kind appeal is that you all give us some time for the lawyer to look into the case and as soon as possible, hopefully by next week, we will come up with our position and further action to be taken on the issue.

“On behalf of the family of Siasia, we want to once again thank you for your concerns and we pray that this will end well,” he said.

FIFA had said in a statement on Friday that the adjudicatory chamber of their independent Ethics Committee found the 51-year-old Siasia guilty.

He was “guilty of having accepted that he will receive bribes in relation to manipulation of matches in violation of FIFA Code of Ethics.”

Siasia played 51 times as a striker for the Nigerian national team and later coached various national youth sides before his first spell as senior coach in 2010.

His case is the latest to emerge from FIFA’s long-running investigation into the activities of Singaporean Wilson Raj Perumal, who FIFA has called a “known match fixer”.

He has admitted such activity in several interviews.

FIFA said Siasia was banned for life “from all football-related activities (administrative, sports or any other) at both national and international levels.”

Siasia was also fined CHF 50,000 (N18.6 million).

The former Nigerian international was appointed Super Eagles head coach from 2010 to Oct. 2011 and he was reappointed in 2016.

NAN reports that FIFA had in 1989 banned Nigeria for two years from age-grade football competitions over discrepancies discovered in the ages provided by the duo of Siasia and Dahiru Sadi.

The ages were provided while registering both players for the 1985 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in the then Soviet Union and the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea.


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FIFA slams life ban on Siasia



World football governing body, FIFA has banned former Super Eagles coach, Samson Siasia for life.

Siasia was banned from all football-related activities by FIFA after being found guilty over bribery and attempt to manipulate matches at the international level.

A statement from FIFA reads: “The adjudicatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee has found Mr. Samson Siasia, a former official of the Nigeria Football Federation, 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 formal ethics proceedings against Mr. Siasia were initiated on 11 February 2019 and stem from an extensive investigation into matches that Mr. Wilson Raj Perumal attempted to manipulate for betting purposes.

“This large-scale investigation was conducted by FIFA via its competent departments and in cooperation with the relevant stakeholders and authorities.

“In its decision, the adjudicatory chamber found that Mr. Siasia had breached art. 11 (Bribery) of the 2009 edition of the FIFA Code of Ethics and banned him for life from all football-related activities (administrative, sports or any other) at both national and international level.

“In addition, a fine in the amount of CHF 50,000 has been imposed on Mr. Siasia. The decision was notified to Mr. Siasia today, the date on which the ban comes into force.”

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