Former FIFA vice-president Chung Mong-joon of South Korea attends a news conference to formally launch his bid to become president of world football’s governing body in Paris yesterday.
South Korean billionaire Chung Mong-Joon yesterday launched his campaign for the FIFA presidency with a blistering attack on outgoing leader Sepp Blatter and his rival to head football’s world governing body, Michel Platini.
Chung, who said that Platini is too close to Blatter’s legacy and the ills that have hit FIFA, vowed to clean up the scandal-tainted body in one four-year term and then stand down. The election campaign, however, is becoming increasingly bitter.
“Today FIFA is undergoing a profound crisis. Under these circumstances, the FIFA president must be a crisis manager and a reformer,” the 63-year-old Chung, a former FIFA vice president, told a Paris press conference.
“The problem at FIFA is that those mired in corruption, the only thing they are interested in is hiding the corruption,” he added.
“The real reason FIFA has become such a corrupt organisation is because the same person (Blatter) has been running it for 40 years. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
FIFA has been embroiled in corruption turmoil since 14 FIFA and sports business executives were charged by US authorities in May over more than $150 million in bribes allegedly paid for television and marketing deals.
Seven FIFA officials have been detained but Blatter has not been linked to any corruption case.
Chung, a member of the family that owns the Hyundai conglomerate, vowed that if successful in the election on February 26, 2016, he would serve just one term. “I can change FIFA in four years. That is my pledge to football fans in the world.”
UEFA president Michel Platini, Brazil football legend Zico and Liberian Football Association chief Musa Bility have also announced they are candidates. Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, another former FIFA vice president from Jordan, is considering a run.
FATHER AND SON
Platini is considered the frontrunner and has already secured public support from key national federations and regional confederations.
But Chung said the Frenchman should not be a candidate because he was so close to the FIFA system and a former close ally of Blatter, who has said he will stand down when the election is held on February 26.
“This is not a good situation for Michel and I think it is good for Michel Platini not to be a candidate this time. He is still very young.
“His problem is that he does not seem to appreciate the seriousness of the corruption crisis at FIFA.”
Chung said that Blatter and Platini once had a “father and son” relationship even though the Frenchman has turned against the FIFA leader.
The South Korean football official said it was time for the FIFA presidency to move away from Europe.
“If Europe had provided healthy and discerning leadership, would FIFA be in this kind of mess today? This is not a criticism but an appeal to you to think.
“The core issue of this election is whether the 40-year-old system of corruption should continue or not.”
The FIFA election campaign is already turning into a bitter affair with allegations of behind-the-scenes dirty tricks.
Blatter alleged in a Dutch newspaper interview that Platini warned him he faced prison if he did not withdraw from the election for the head of the world body in May. Blatter won the vote but announced four days later that he would stand down.
Blatter told De Volkskrant that the warning was made to his brother. But German newspaper Die Welt said on Sunday that Blatter was behind the distribution of an article by a Swiss journalist which lambasted Platini.
UEFA has written to FIFA calling for an investigation into the article.
Five facts on FIFA contender Chung
Chung Mong-Joon, 63, is the sixth son of Hyundai conglomerate founder Chung Ju-Yun. Educated at the prestigious Seoul National University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Johns Hopkins University, he controls Hyundai Heavy Industries, one of the world’s biggest engineering groups. That has taken his net worth well over $1 billion.
In football, he is already an honorary vice president of FIFA, having served on its executive committee from 1994 to 2011. A former head of the South Korean Football Association he was instrumental in bringing the first World Cup tournament to Asia when it was jointly held by South Korea and Japan in 2002.
In politics, Chung stood for the South Korean presidency in 2002. He agreed to back another candidate and then withdrew his support for him on the eve of the election. A longtime member of the South Korean national assembly, Chung also made a bid to become mayor of Seoul last year.
Chung still plays football and basketball in his spare time. In the past he has also been a competitive equestrian competitor and cross-country skier.
Chung on FIFA: “The real reason FIFA has become such a corrupt organisation is because the same person (Sepp Blatter) has been running it for 40 years. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
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