Chung ‘fac­ing lengthy FIFA sus­pen­sion’

The China Post - - SPORTS -

FIFA pres­i­den­tial con­tender Chung Mong- joon said Tues­day he is fac­ing a 19-year sus­pen­sion by the ethics com­mit­tee of the world soc­cer body for al­leged ethics breaches sur­round­ing South Korea’s failed bid for the 2022 World Cup, and also for openly crit­i­ciz­ing the com­mit­tee.

The South Korean bil­lion­aire de­nied any wrong­do­ing and ac­cused the com­mit­tee of act­ing as a “hit man” of cur­rent FIFA Pres­i­dent Sepp Blat­ter who Chung says is at­tempt­ing to dam­age his can­di­dacy.

“The true dan­ger is that they won’t stop at sab­o­tag­ing only my can­di­dacy but also de­struc­t­ing FIFA’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and FIFA it­self,” the for­mer FIFA vice pres­i­dent said in a news con­fer­ence in Seoul.

Chung said the ethics com­mit­tee is plan­ning to hit him soon with a 15-year sus­pen­sion for propos­ing, in letters to mem­bers of FIFA’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee, a US$777 mil­lion fund to fi­nance soc­cer de­vel­op­ment projects around the world.

Although South Korea was then still in the race for the 2022 event, Chung said his pro­pos­als were in line with FIFA’s rules. He said FIFA had al­ready in­ves­ti­gated the is­sue in 2010 and de­ter­mined the mat­ter as closed, but re­opened the case af­ter he de­clared his pres­i­den­tial can­di­dacy in Au­gust. Chung also said the com­mit­tee threat­ened to hit him with an ad­di­tional 4-year sus­pen­sion for “de­fam­ing” the com­mit­tee af­ter he ques­tioned its in­tegrity. “The fun­da­men­tal rea­son why I am be­ing tar­geted is that I aimed straight at the ex­ist­ing power struc­ture of FIFA,” said Chung, who be­lieves his can­di­dacy could be jeop­ar­dized if the com­mit­tee con­firms the sus­pen­sions af­ter a hear­ing.

FIFA has set a Feb. 26 elec­tion to re­place Blat­ter, who an­nounced his de­par­ture in June amid mount­ing pres­sure to re­form af­ter wide­spread al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion within FIFA ranks. Con­tenders are re­quired to se­cure nom­i­na­tions from five fed­er­a­tions to of­fi­cially register as can­di­dates by the Oct. 26 dead­line. UEFA Pres­i­dent Michel Pla­tini of France and Prince Ali bin al-Hus­sein of Jor­dan have also de­clared their can­di­dacy for soc­cer’s top of­fice.

Chung, the bil­lion­aire scion of the Hyundai busi­ness group, was a FIFA vice pres­i­dent for 17 years, and was once con­sid­ered a can­di­date to suc­ceed Blat­ter be­fore los­ing his seat in 2011, to Prince Ali.

He was a key fig­ure in help­ing South Korea land the right to co­host the 2002 World Cup with Ja­pan, and has been a long­time critic of Blat­ter, whom he de­scribed in a memoir pub­lished in 2011 as a dic­ta­to­rial “lit­tle brat.”

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