KEIR RADNEDGE in LONDON —- Chung Mong-joon intends to sue FIFA president Sepp Blatter for embezzlement because of the secrecy over the pay, bonuses and expenses which the head of world football has enjoyed ever since being elected in 1998.
The 61-year-old South Korean, who claims “Blatter and his cronies” have used the ethics process to try to stall his presidency bid, was following up at the Leaders Sports Business Summit on his fiery statement of the previous day when he launched his latest ferociou attack on what he calls “the Blatter dynasty.”
Chung, a FIFA vice-president for 17 years and an honorary vice-president since 2011, acknowledged that he faces an imminent 15-year suspension from football over World Cup bid allegations and a further four years for breaching confidentiality rules.
He indicated that, in that case, he would employ all legal means at his disposal to contest any sanction.
He would have to move fast. Nominations for candidacies for the FIFA presidency must be submitted by October 26. Other contenders include Michel Platini, the French president of UEFA, and Prince Ali of Jordan, who ousted Chung as Asia’s FIFA vice-president in 2011 and who embarrassed Blatter in the election in May.
Chung wasted no time launching his latest assault on Blatter’s reign at FIFA whose reputation has hit rock bottom after becoming muddied by one corruption scandal after another over the past 15 years.
He said: “I remember the time when I walked down the street proudly wearing a FIFA blazer. Now I would probably get laughed at or even attacked. FIFA has become a badge of shame. I will turn it back into a badge of pride. I will make people proud to wear a FIFA blazer again.
“How did it become corrupt? Because it lacks transparency. Like the dungeon in its headquarters, FIFA has become a secretive place. No-one knows how it works. You can find the salary of a company president or prime minster any time online but we still don’t know what president Blatter is paid.
“For president Blatter to get paid without executive committee approval is embezzlement. That is why I plan to sue Mr Blatter on his embezzlement in court. In the Visa-MasterCard [sponsor switch] case [in 2006] the judge said FIFA is not fit to use the slogan of fair play. She used the word ‘lies’ 13 times. Those lies cost FIFA $100m. The case should have been a criminal case. That was corruption.
“They had even feigned the signature of the president of Visa to make a separate contract to deceive MasterCard. Why should FIFA pay the fine for president Blatter’s corruption? President Blatter and Mr Valcke, the general secretary [who is now] under suspension, should have paid the fine from their own pocket.
“At the executive committee meeting after the verdict I raised the issue and Mr Blatter tried to freeze me out. I was the only executive committee member to do so. This is another case on which I will sue president Blatter.”
Chung estimated later that the sums concerning could run to tens of millions of dollars or pounds or Swiss francs. He had been advised that the damages should be linked to the sums involved.
The South Korean billionaire has estimated he would need only the single next thee-year term to put FIFA back on the straight and narrow. A priority would be enacting institutional reform to ensure an effective system of internal controls.
He said: “At FIFA all the important and sensitive decisions are made by Mr Blatter and his cronies. We need a system of checks and balances between the president, the exco, the congress and the judicial bodies.
“We must also change the way FIFA Congress is run. It must become a forum where members can speak more freely. Also, who do delegates from 209 national associations come from all around the world for a congress that lasts only three or fours hours with no debate? Now it always degenerates into a one-man show.”
Chung also challenged perceptions about the amount of support Blatter really enjoyed throughout the football world.
‘Fear and contempt’
He said: “The relationship between FIFA, the confederations and the national associations has become one of fear and contempt. National associations fear president Blatter but behind his back many of them don’t hesitate to show their contempt.
“The national associations know he is the source of all the problems. Even after announcing his resignation Mr Blatter wants to stay on to oversee the reforms and the next presidential election. The target of reform should not be allowed to oversee the reform process. He is a hypocrite and a liar.
“FIFA is in total meltdown and Mr Blatter’s dynasty is coming to an end but still few dare speak out against him.”
Chung repeated his oft-stated belief that “Mr Blatter and his cronies have been doing everything to undermine my candidacy . . . I’m disappointed but not surprised.” He considered that the ethics chamber was merely am arm of the president’s office.
He described the substantive charge against him, over a development support proposal during the 2018-2022 World Cup bid campaign, as without foundation. He produced a copy of a ‘clearance’ letter issued at the time by secretary-general Jerome Valcke and said he was being charged, against natural justice, by retrospective legislation.
“The true danger,” said Chung, “is that [the ethics committee] is not only sabotaging my candidacy but sabotaging FIFA’s election and FIFA itself.”
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