August 29 – Samson Siasia, who coached Nigeria’s men’s team to a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics, has decided to pack in working in the country because of what he describes as “a disrespectful system”.
Siasia, the most decorated African coach at the Olympics having also won a silver medal in Beijing in 2008, claims to have gone unpaid for five months by his employers, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), according to the BBC and has decided to step down as a result of “a turbulent and incredible campaign in Brazil.”
“I have reached that point where I have to say I have had enough,” Siasia, whose contract reportedly expired anyway at the end of the Games, said. “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.”
Before arriving in Rio, Nigeria’s squad were held up en route in Atlanta because a dispute over their onward flight being paid and only landed in Brazil hours before their opening 5-4 win over Japan.
They also had a troubled build-up to their quarter-final against Denmark after the players boycotted a training session in a dispute over pay. After the Games a spat broke out over who should be the beneficiary of a gift donated to the squad by a previously unknown Japanese benefactor for winning the bronze medal.
“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,” said Siasia. “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.”
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