The former Shan United FC star made the headlines in the local media last week after FIFA endorsed a two-year worldwide ban initially imposed by the football governing body in Bangladesh
Nigerian attacker Christopher Chizoba will not participate in any football activity until 2023 after FIFA approved a Bangladesh Football Federation request to ban Chizoba worldwide.
Chizoba’s troubles, however, did not start last week. The problems began almost two years ago when he was still on the payroll of Bangladeshi side, Arambagh Krira Sangha.
Born in Lagos some 30 years ago as Christopher Chizoba Iyikwobe, Chizoba arrived in India in 2010 and played for a few lower league clubs, including Mohammedan, Shillong Lajong, and Kalighat MS.
He did not spend more than a season at any of those clubs.
Chizoba’s reputation grew as a fine striker who could use both feet with equal dexterity, and soon bigger Indian clubs were attracted to him. The forward spent the 2013/14 season at Mohun Bagan, only to move to Lonestar Kashmir FC the following year.
And after not playing a single game for Lonestar, Chizoba left India for Myanmar in 2016, signing for top division side Ayeyawady Utd.
The Nigerian rediscovered his brilliant form, scoring 16 goals – the league’s joint-leading goalscorer – as Ayeyawady finished fourth on the Myanmar National League table.
Ever the journeyman, Chizoba swapped the dressing room at Ayeyawady for fifth-placed Shan United in November 2016.
It proved to be an inspired move as Chizoba netted 15 times, finishing again as league top-scorer, as Shan United lifted the league title and qualified for the 2018 Asian Champions League.
Shan United later dropped to the AFC Cup, where Chizoba confirmed his rating as a top marksman, notching eight goals and three assists in 12 matches.
Chizoba’s association with United ended in 2019 and he was without a club for a while before a brief spell with Ethiopia’s Welwalo Adigrat.
The striker, however, arrived in Bangladesh in December 2020 to put pen to paper on another year-long deal.
Five goals in 13 games for his new side was a decent return, but it did not stop the team from suffering relegation from the Bangladesh Premier League to the Bangladesh Championship League.
But bigger troubles soon surfaced.
Sometimes in mid-2021, the Asian Football Confederation found evidence of unethical activities involving Arambagh FC following investigations.
The findings were sent to the Bangladesh Football Federation.
The Federation conducted its investigations which equally concluded that Arambagh’s players and officials had been involved in online gaming, betting, and match-fixing.
The BFF after that punished Arambagh Krira Sangha by expelling the club to the lower reaches of the football league structure.
The club’s president Minhazul Islam, team manager Gowher Jahangir Rusho, Indian fitness trainer Maidul Islam Sheikh and assistant team manager Arif Hossain were all banned from football for life.
Several Arambagh players cupped between three years and one-year bans. Australian defender Christian Smith was suspended for three years. Abul Kashem Milon received a year’s ban.
Christopher Chizoba was banned for two years.
Perhaps thinking that the ban was effective only in Bangladesh, Chizoba returned to familiar surroundings in India and signed for Tollygunge Agragami.
On January 1 this year, the 30-year-old inked a new one-year deal with another Indian club Forward FC. And that was when the BFF petitioned FIFA to recognise Chizoba’s ban worldwide.
FIFA approved the Federation’s request and duly communicated same to the Nigeria Football Federation. The NFF is expected to inform the player and his present club of the development.
Chizoba will not be involved in any football-related activity globally until 26th September 2023.