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Chung accuses rival of unfair competition

FIFA presidential candidate Chung Mong-joon urged the global soccer governing body’s electoral and ethics committees to investigate officials and regional soccer associations for violation of election rules in order to sway votes in favor of his European rival. 

Chung Mong-joon, the FIFA presidential candidate, speaks at a news conference in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)
Chung Mong-joon, the FIFA presidential candidate, speaks at a news conference in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)

In a press conference in Seoul on Thursday, the Korean candidate accused Salman Bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, president of the Asian Football Confederation, of gathering support from its member associations for Michel Platini, president of the Union of European Football Associations.

Chung said it was found that regional members, including in China, Japan, India and Mongolia received letters from the AFC seeking support for Platini, Chung’s rival candidate for FIFA’s top job. The AFC, however, did not send the letter to Korea and Jordan as the two countries’ candidates would also be running for FIFA president.

This was a clear violation of FIFA’s election rules, Chung said, calling on Platini to respond to this allegation.

“If the AFC president and the UEFA president used their power to intervene in the election, this move will be a violation of (FIFA’s) basic rules and undermine the spirit of fair play,” Chung told the press.

“Platini, who has benefited from the (AFC’s) act of sending unsolicited letters of support for the UEFA president as FIFA president, should come out and respond before FIFA’s investigations.”

He added that the letter had also been sent to FIFA’s general secretary, indicating only its support for Platini as FIFA president.

Chung reiterated that no regional soccer associations should be influenced by third parties in the election and that they are required to make independent decisions.

FIFA has been facing corruption allegations with several of its officials being investigated by the U.S. FBI and Justice Department in collaboration with Swiss authorities.

Allegations include money-laundering of kickbacks FIFA officials received from the sales of broadcasting rights and the selection of hosts of the Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022 World Cups.

Incumbent FIFA president Joseph “Sepp” Blatter, chief of the soccer governing body for more than 17 years, offered to step down amid the scandal.

Platini, who is known to be close with Blatter, announced his bid for FIFA’s top job last July, saying in a statement: “There are times in life when you have to take your destiny into your own hands. I am at one of those decisive moments, at a juncture in my life and in events that are shaping the future of FIFA.”

Last month, Chung announced in Paris that he would run for the FIFA presidency, vowing to serve only once and clean up FIFA within the four-year term. Nominations must be submitted by Oct. 26 for the election on Feb. 26, 2016.

By Park Hyong-ki (hkp@heraldcorp.com)

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