Chung to enter race for FIFA presidency

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Chung to enter race for FIFA presidency

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Chung Mong-joon

Former FIFA Vice President Chung Mong-joon has decided to run for the most prestigious - and now controversial - job in football.

Chung, who was vice president from 1994 to 2011, told the JoongAng Ilbo, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily, on Tuesday that he is preparing to officially declare his candidacy for the FIFA presidency, although he didn’t reveal when.

The 63-year-old said he plans to make the announcement in Europe.

“I am preparing to run for FIFA president,” Chung said to the JoongAng Ilbo by phone. “As a football administrator, I couldn’t overlook FIFA becoming corrupted.”

His comment comes a day after the FIFA executive committee in Zurich set the election date for FIFA president, to be held on Feb. 26.

Current FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who announced his resignation last month and promised not to run in the next election, will keep his job until then.

The 79-year-old Blatter, who first joined FIFA 40 years ago and has held football’s most powerful job since 1998, is under pressure following the United States and Swiss authorities’ investigation into a corruption scandal involving FIFA officials.

Chung last month said in a press conference that he is considering a run for FIFA president, but will make his decision after careful discussion with international football leaders.

He later went to Berlin to meet officials such as Michel Platini, head of the European football governing body UEFA.

The honorary president of the Korea Football Association (KFA) also visited New Zealand, where the U-20 FIFA World Cup was held, and Canada, host of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, to meet with other local leaders.

Chung, who was the KFA president from 1993 to 2009, has been one of the most outspoken critics of Blatter. In an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo last month, he said those involved in the scandal, including Blatter, should leave FIFA immediately.

In order to recover from its tarnished image, the FIFA executive committee on Monday decided to have a reform task force review proposals like the introduction of term limits for the president of FIFA and executive members of the governing body, as well as stricter standards for how officials are financially compensated.

But with Blatter remaining at the helm until next February, overseeing both the election campaign and reform proposals, Chung again emphasized that FIFA should “wake up” to make proper corrections.

Chung, a former lawmaker for the ruling Saenuri Party who also tried to become the president of Korea, previously said “those with independent opinions” should govern FIFA. This time, he became more aggressive, presumably targeting Platini, the leading contender in the race for the FIFA presidency.

“I know there is skepticism about an Asian leading FIFA,” he said. “But the old idea that FIFA must be European-centered created this corruption.”

Platini, the 60-year-old French football legend, is expected to launch his campaign soon. However, observers say his ties to Qatar - which won its controversial bid to host the 2022 World Cup - could make him unpopular among those eager for a complete reform of FIFA.

Chung is likely to be joined in the race by old foe Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, who beat Chung for the FIFA vice presidency in 2011.

Other candidates who have so far expressed their intention to run for the presidency include Brazilian football great Zico and the president of Liberia’s football federation, Musa Bility. Argentine football legend Diego Maradona will also reportedly submit his bid.

Presidential candidates must first receive at least five nominations from 209 member associations by Oct. 26. Chung said he will first gain support from Asian countries.

BY JOO KYUNG-DON [joo.kyungdon@joongang.co.kr]
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