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Chung launches FIFA presidency bid, attacks Blatter

Chung Mong-Joon 1

Paris:  South Korean billionaire Chung Mong-Joon on Monday launched his formal campaign for the FIFA presidency with a blistering attack on outgoing leader Sepp Blatter and a vow to fix the scandal-tainted world football body in four years.

“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 press conference in Paris.

“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 organization is because the same person (Blatter) has been running it for 40 years. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

FIFA has been embroiled in a corruption turmoil since seven FIFA officials were arrested in a Zurich hotel ahead of the world body’s congress in May.

The seven are among 14 people facing US charges over more than $150 million in bribes allegedly paid for television and marketing deals. Blatter has not been linked to any corruption case however.

Chung, a member of the family that owns the various arms of the Hyundai conglomerate, vowed that if successful in an election to be held in February he would serve just one term.

“I can change FIFA in four years. That is my pledge to football fans in the world.”

“After decades of ever-widening circles of corruption, FIFA needs a leader who can bring back common sense, transparency and accountability.”

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 also considering a run.

- bitter affair –

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.”

Chung said that Blatter and Platini once had a “father and son” relationship but the Frenchman has now turned against the FIFA leader.

The South Korean football official also said it was time for the FIFA presidency to move away from Europe. All the presidents have so far come from Europe or Brazil.

“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 newspaper that the warning was made to his brother.

But German newspaper Die Welt said 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.

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