SEOUL: Chung Mong-Joon has denounced attempts to manipulate the FIFA presidential process in defending himself against allegations of wrongdoing writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The South Korean, who declared himself a candidate to succeed departing Sepp Blatter earlier this month, has defended his reputation after reports that he was under investigation by the world federation’s ethics committee.

Chung, FIFA’s Asian vice-president for 17 years, derided allegations of a compromising attempt to influence the 2022 World Cup vote in favour of South Korea.

A statement from his office said: “To be clear, contrary to recent press reports based on FIFA leaks, Dr Chung is not facing any criminal charges or allegations of bribery, fraud, corruption, vote buying or even a breach of ‘conflict of interest’ under the FIFA ethics code from the ethics committee.

“Beyond that, Dr Chung refrains from commenting on any possible ethics committee proceedings out of respect for confidentiality requests made by FIFA.

“However, by leaking information that could only have come from within FIFA, FIFA is violating its own rules and regulations that it imposes upon others. Indeed, the current election is in danger of being manipulated to a degree unseen even in previous notorious presidential elections.”

Michel Platini, French president of European federation UEFA, is the only other heavyweight candidate to have thrown his hat into the ring ahead of the nominations deadline of October 26.

Chung made no secret of a belief that he is competing not only against other candidates – declared and still waiting in the wings – but also against the FIFA ‘machine.’

‘Litmus test’

The statement added: “Whether or not the upcoming FIFA presidential election takes place according to due process, fairness and openness will be the litmus test for whether or not genuine reform of FIFA will be possible.

“Only a fair and open election can resuscitate FIFA’s reputation which has been gravely undermined by scandals old and new.

“Unfortunately, there are increasing signs that the election is deteriorating into a typical FIFA affair with selective leaks of so-called ‘confidential’ information, accusations of wrong-doing based on ‘unconfirmed reports’, un-named ‘sources’ and ‘insiders’.

“The recent press reports attacking Dr Chung’s character and integrity are based on such unconfirmed, leaked sources and full of factual distortions.”

Chung reiterated that he had done nothing wrong and was not under any kind of investigation.

He added: “This is not just a matter of who gets elected the next president of FIFA. It is a matter of what kind of FIFA will emerge out of this current crisis. Will it be the old corrupt FIFA shunned by fans or will it be a new FIFA that can truly represent and raise to new heights our beautiful game? This is what hangs in the balance.”

# # # #