KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Former FIFA vice-president Chung Mong-joon has had his ethics ban from football cut short on appeal by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Chung, Asia’s senior representative on the world federation’s executive committee for a decade, had been suspended for five years and fined CHF 50,000 in 2016 over allegations concerning the infamous 2018-2022 World Cup bid process.
CAS has effectively terminated the ban by reducing it to 15 months which meant its expiration on January 7. It also scrapped the fine, describing it as“unconscionable.”
Chung is thus now “free to take part in any football related activity (administrative, sport or any other) at national and international level.”
CAS made it clear that it had weighed FIFA’s “excessive and unjustified delays” which meant Chung “had to serve a longer suspension than the Panel finds to be warranted.”
A serious complaint concerning former ethics chairs Hans-Joachim Eckert and Cornel Borbely was the time taken in providing appellants with written justifications for disciplinary action which impeded the launch of appeals.
Both Chung and former Chilean federation president Harold Mayne-Nicholls, also disciplined over issues connected to the World Cup bid process, had complained about an apparent systemic delay.
Chung, in a statement, regretted that CAS had not scrapped FIFA ethics punishment altogether, describing “the past four years as a painful period in which my honour was violated.”
He promised to “do my part in helping FIFA regain the love and respect of football fans around the world. ”
The FIFA Ethics Committee opened an investigation in 2014 alleging that Chung had engaged in “vote trading” and that he had given the “appearance of offering benefits” in South Korea’s ultimately vain pursuit of the 2022 World Cup.
These accusations were dropped but the ethics committee acted over Chung’s written offers of global football fund to fellow exco members. It also charged that Chung had “failed to cooperate” with the investigation and imposed a five-year ban.
Chung complained that FIFA had delayed providing him with a written judgment for more than a year. CAS ruled that FIFA’s delay far exceeded an ethics committee complaint about Chung’s own tardy response to the charges.
CAS said that FIFA had tried to impose punishments that were “evidently and grossly disproportionate..” It took special note of Dr. Chung’s longstanding “public stance against corruption within FIFA” and “the meritorious services he provided to FIFA and football over the years.”
The court did rule, however, that two sentences in Chung’s letter to exco members promoting South Korea’s World Cup bid were inappropriate because they were not included in the public versions.
However Chung “subjectively did not believe that he was engaging in unethical conduct.”
Chung could have cooperated more closely with investigators on occasion, but none of these instances was a “major infraction.”
In response to the appeal verdict, Chung said: “From the start, I had steadfastly maintained that the whole process was a plot of former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, designed to keep me out of FIFA.”
Blatter, himself subsequently banned from football, has always denied Chung’s allegations.