KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —– Chung Mong-joon, the man who snatched a share of World Cup hosting for South Korea in 2002 alongside Japan, intends to stand for the FIFA presidency.
The 61-year-old scion of the Hyundai empire said in Seoul that the world football federation needed a fresh approach after the scandal-twisted downward spiral of the last five years under Sepp Blatter.
Chung, who wants to make a formal announcement next month in Europe, said: “It won’t be an easy, but I think it would be worth it, and there could be good results if I try hard enough. I plan to officially announce my candidacy in mid-August, and if possible, in Europe, the centre of world football.
“If I get elected, my job is not to enjoy the luxury of the office. My job is to change it. It will be very difficult for Mr Michel Platini to have any meaningful reforms. Mr Platini enjoys institutional support from the current structure of Fifa. Mr Platini is very much a product of the current system.
“It is time that Fifa had a non-European leadership. FIFA became a closed organisation for President Blatter, his associates and his cronies and I want to change that.”
Platini, French president of European federation UEFA, issued his own declaration of candidacy on Wednesday. Others stating an interest have included South American former stars Zico (Brazil) and Diego Maradona (Argentina) as well as the Liberia federation president Musa Bility.
The initial barrier all must surmount is the need to garner nomination support from at least five national associations by the October 26 deadline and to have served in a football role for two of the last five years.
Since Chung is an honorary vice-president of FIFA this latter issue should not be a problem and the influence of both football sponsor Hyundai and the Korean federation should ensure at least four other signatory supporters.
Whether Chung will gain significant support from the bulk of the Asian confederation is another matter since he has been out of executive office since being ousted as the region’s FIFA vice-president by Jordan’s Prince Ali bin Al Hussein in 2011.
Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, current AFC president, has welcomed Platini’s candidacy without going as far as endorsing him.
Sheikh Salman said: “We have of course noted Michel Platini’s decision to stand, and he is certainly a unique candidate who would bring stability and a smooth transition to normality for FIFA in this difficult situation.
Need for reform
“Yet we should also remember that the FIFA president is only one part of FIFA, which is why it is so important to get the reforms right as well.
“Everybody accepts the need for change in FIFA, and in addition to changing the president much of the rest of FIFA’s organisation and the way it functions need to be modernised as well.
“FIFA also needs someone who can take the best of the past, fuse it with new ideas, and so take the organisation into the future. FIFA is in a very difficult position right now. In order to stabilise it needs leadership, experience and new ideas, but above all it needs football to be placed at its heart.
“Hopefully a new president can bring many of these things, which is why it is so important for Asia to remain as united as possible behind the single best candidate for football, regardless of where they are from.”
Prince Ali, defeated by Blatter in the presidential election this past May, has frowned in Platini’s power bid.