KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Chung Mong-joon is considering whether he may need to go direct to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to keep alive his ambition of entering the election for the next president of FIFA.
The 61-year-old South Korean billionaire was banned from football for six years and fined 100,000 Swiss francs on Wednesday by the ethics committee of the world football federation.
Initially FIFA’s former Asian vice-president was charged on two counts over his activities in support of South Korea’s vain bid to win host rights to the 2022 World Cup. In the event the charges were whittled back to technical offences including breaching rules of confidentiality.
Chung flew to London earlier this week to deliver an excoriating attack at the Leaders Sports Business Summit on FIFA and its president Sepp Blatter. The latter has been suspended this week for 90 days pending the outcome of a full investigation into allegations of mismanagement and misuse of funds.
The South Korean compared his punishment unfavourably with those of Blatter and also of UEFA president Michel Platini, similarly suspended for 90 days. This appeared to ignore the different stages of their processes. However Chung thought it reinforced his complaint that the ethics committee was being used “to sabotage my candidacy for FIFA president.”
Nominations must be submitted by October 26 which, by normal standards, would not even be long enough for an appeal to FIFA’s appeals committee let alone the next step of action at CAS.
Hence Chung’s latest salvo, insisting he would “mobilise all legal means available to expose the injustice of this decision by the ethics committee while continuing to do my utmost to reform FIFA. This includes a formal request to the Court of Arbitration for Sport next week.”
Chung threatened earlier this week that he would sue Blatter for his conduct in the VISA-MasterCard sponsor switch court case and over his confidential payment arrangement.
He added: “The Ethics Committee will also be the subject of my legal actions for damaging my reputation.”
Statement from Chung Mong-joon:
The unfairness of the sanctions levelled by the FIFA Ethics Committee against me in contrast to those levelled against FIFA President Sepp Blatter, UEFA President Michel Platini, and FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke is such that one can only conclude that it is a shameful attempt to punish me for my open criticisms of FIFA.
This shows that the investigation into my alleged violations has been fundamentally flawed and was merely an attempt to sabotage my candidacy for FIFA President.
President Blatter, President Platini, and Secretary General Valcke who are being investigated on the suspicion of bribery, malfeasance, and embezzlement have all received 90 day suspensions.
In contrast, I have received a sanction of six years for violating such vague articles of FIFA Code of Ethics as “General obligation to collaborate,” “Duty of disclosure,” and “confidentiality.” This is a most blatant miscarriage of justice.
The Ethics Committee is sanctioning me not for my alleged violations of “vote-trading,” “the appearance of offering a benefit,” and personal donations but for my criticisms of the Ethics Committee and my “attitude” during the investigation.
There is no clearer proof than this that the whole investigation has been a political ploy from the beginning.
Through the Garcia Report that was made public in November 2014, FIFA had cleared the Korea World Cup Bid Committee of any wrongdoing, stating that the “potentially problematic facts and circumstances identified by the Report regarding the Korea 2022 bid were, all in all, not suited to compromise the integrity of the FIFA World Cup 2018/2022 bidding process as a whole.”
Despite this, the “vote-trading” allegation was made when the British Parliament started an investigation into England’s failed World Cup bid. The Ethics Committee initially thought that they had a strong case against me.
One of the questions it sent me on February 13, 2015 was: “Would it surprise you to learn that the Chairman of England 2018, Mr Geoff Thompson has admitted to agreeing to trade your vote for Korea 2022, in exchange for England’s vote for Korea 2022?”
The vote-trading allegedly took place when we paid a courtesy visit on Prince William at the Prince’s request in his suite at Baur au Lac Hotel in Zurich on December 1, 2010, one day before the vote.
When I went to the Prince’s suite, Prime Minister Cameron and Mr. Geoff Thompson were also there.
Dr Lee Hong-Koo, former Prime Minister of Korea and Ambassador to Great Britain, was also present at the gathering. However, in the transcript, Mr Thomson did not even remember whether Prince William was present. When I responded to the Ethics Committee, saying whether I would have engaged in vote trading in such company, they dropped the charge.
On the second allegation, the Ethics Committee again thought they had a strong case against me when it sent me a transcript of an interview that the former head of the Ethics Committee, Michael Garcia, conducted with Mr Blatter and Mr Valcke.
According to the transcript, when they were asked about the letters that I had sent to fellow ExCo members, both Mr Blatter and Mr Valcke feigned “surprise.”
In response, I sent them copies of two letters that Secretary General Jerome Valcke had sent Dr. Han Sung-joo, the head of the Korea World Cup Bid Committee, and myself in November 2010.
In the letter, Secretary General Valcke said, “[b]ased on explanations given by you and Dr. Mo[ng]-Joon Chung, please be informed that we consider the integrity of the Bidding Process not to be affected and consequently deem the matter as closed.”
Now, it turns out that this allegation, too, has been dropped. That is, both allegations for which the investigation against me were initiated, have now been dropped.
In August, media reports of an investigation into my personal donations to Haiti and Pakistan began to surface. However, when I told them that I have been making numerous donations to countries in need of disaster relief, the allegations disappeared.
There is a fundamental procedural flaw in the Ethics Committee’s decision to sanction me.
If Mr. Hans-Joachim Eckert, as head of the Chairman of Adjudicatory Chamber, was claiming to be the victim of defamation by me, he should have recused himself from presiding over my case.
The fact that he was allowed to render a decision was a clear breach of the legal process.
This decision by the Ethics Committee has completely undermined the legitimacy and fairness of the next FIFA presidential election.
International football community is already taking note of the fact that President Blatter plans to come back to his current position after February 26, 2016, by which time the provisional 90 day sanction would have expired, if the FIFA Congress is unable to elect the next president in case no candidate can win a majority.
FIFA is like the sinking Titanic.
If there are those within FIFA who continue to only look out for their own selfish interests while hastening FIFA’s downfall, history will judge them harshly, along with President Blatter who has morally bankrupted FIFA.
I will mobilize all legal means available to expose the injustice of this decision by the Ethics Committee while continuing to do my utmost to reform FIFA.
This includes a formal request to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) next week.
As I mentioned in London recently, I plan to sue Mr. Blatter for the VISA-MasterCard fraud case and for getting paid by FIFA without the approval of the Executive Committee which amounts to embezzlement. The Ethics Committee will also be the subject of my legal actions for damaging my reputation.
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