KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Former Oceania supremo David Chung has become the latest FIFA powerbroker from the Blatter era to be banned from all involvement in football.
Chung was briefly senior vice-president of world football’s governing authority before he was brought down by an investigation into bribery and conflict of interest over multi-million-dollar plans for Oceania’s new headquarters in Auckland.
Oceania is one of the six regional confederations of the world game along with Africa, Asia, Central and North America (CONCACAF), South America (CONMEBOL) and Europe (UEFA). This entitled Oceania to a place at the FIFA top table with one vice-president and two other members on the governing council.
Chung’s punishment is the latest imposed by the ethics committee in a sudden rush of activity.
Earlier this year life bans for accepting bribes were handed down to referees Ibrahim Chaibou (Niger) and Oden Chareles Mbaga (Tanzania).
Next came a further life ban for bribery for Boniface Mwamelo, ex-treasurer and vice-president of the Zambia FA, then a 15-year suspension for Sidio Jose Mugadza, a senior official of the Mozambique federation – also for accepting bribes.
Conflict of interest
As for Chung, a statement from the FIFA ethics committee said the Malaysian-born 56-year-old had been found “guilty of having offered and accepted gifts, as well as having acted under a conflict of interest, in violation of the FIFA Code of Ethics.”
A 10-month investigation found Chung in breach of both article 20 of the ethics code (“the offering and accepting gifts or other benefits”) and article 19 (“conflicts of interest”). He has been banned from football for six years and six months and fined 100,000 Swiss francs.
The investigation into Chung had been sparked by irregularities uncovered during a standard FIFA audit and led to a temporary freeze of development support for Oceania.
Chung has thus become the second successive Oceania president to be kicked out of the game for corruption.
Predecessor Reynald Temarii from Tahiti was unseated after seeking illicit support from undercover newspaper reporters in the run-up to the scandal-scarred hosting votes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in late 2010.
Later Temarii was banned for a further eight years for having accepted money from the then Asian confederation president Mohamed bin Hammam. The cash went towards Temarii’s legal expenses in both contesting the original ethics action and/or seeking, in vain, to allow his then-deputy Chung to vote in his place.
Chung was elected unopposed as Oceania president for a four-year term in January 2011 and re-elected in 2015. Inbetween he was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s 2012 Birthday Honours list.
In 2017 Chung was appointed as deputy chairman of FIFA’s new competitions organising committee. Immediately he threw Oceania’s support behind the expansion of the World Cup to 48 teams for 2026 with the certainty that it would at last be guaranteed at least one direct qualification slot at the finals.
Trouble back home
Simultaneously, however, his dual role as head of the Papua New Guinea FA came under attack after allegations that he had illegally excluded supporters of rival John Kapi Natto from the 2016 elections. Chung denied all wrongdoing.
Last April he suddenly quit all his football roles citing “personal reasons.” His exit occurred days before the OFC’s executive committee was due to study the audit into the $11m project for the new HQ in Auckland’s Ngahue Reserve.
A motion of ‘no confidence’ in Chung proved unnecessary and FIFA’s ethics committee launched its inquiry into his conduct a month later.
Oceania’s interim president since Chung was suspended initially last May has been Lambert Maltock of Vanuatu who is also thus a FIFA vice-president.
Apart from Temarii and now Chung other banned former FIFA vice-presidents have included Jeff Webb and Alfredo Hawit (CONCACAF), Eugenio Figueredo and Juan Angel Napout (CONMEBOL) and Michel Platini (UEFA).
The adjudicatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee has found David Chung, former President of the Papua New Guinea Football Association, former President of the Oceania Football Confederation and former member of the FIFA Council, guilty of having offered and accepted gifts, as well as having acted under a conflict of interest, in violation of the FIFA Code of Ethics.