Chung Mong-Joon confirms he will seek to become next FIFA president
South Korean says favorite Platini has been too close to incumbent Blatter
Michel Platini may be the frontrunner to become FIFA’s next president, but his latest rival says the Frenchman cannot expect an easy ride at February’s elections according to his latest rival.
Already one potential rival – and former ally – has claimed the head of European football is “not the right man” to replace Sepp Blatter as leader of the world governing body.
Then last weekend, UEFA reportedly made an official complaint to FIFA about an alleged “smear campaign” against Platini after the distribution of a critical article about him entitled “Skeleton in a closet.”
And now billionaire Chung Mong-Joon has told CNN that the 60-year-old “does not appreciate the seriousness of the nature of the current crisis” on the day the former South Korean football chief became the fourth person to confirmed candidacy for FIFA’s top job.
Chung said Platini’s previous close relationship with Blatter, which soured when the Swiss stood for reelection in June despite promising he would not, means the former France international cannot be an effective reformer at the scandal-hit organization.
“We all know the personal relationship between Michel Platini and President Blatter. It was like a mentor and protégé, or even father and son,” Chung said Monday.
“Now Platini claims President Blatter is his enemy … so it suddenly has become fashionable to become Blatter’s enemy. That’s too convenient. I don’t think it’s good for Michel, I don’t think it’s good for FIFA to see Michel as the next FIFA President. That’s the reason why I decided to run.”
Platini is one of FIFA’s vice-presidents – a position Chung held for over a decade until he lost his place on the executive committee in 2011.
An active critic of Blatter, Chung had suggested he would stand in that year’s presidential elections, but could not do so after being replaced as Asia’s ExCo representative by Jordan’s Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein.
Prince Ali ended up standing against Blatter in this year’s vote, but conceded after the first round even though the incumbent had not won the two-thirds majority required to guarantee victory.
The 39-year-old has suggested he may try again at February’s special election – which was called after Blatter decided to step down just days after his June reelection due to a new corruption scandal which implicated several top FIFA officials.
Prince Ali told CNN Arabic last week: “I do not think Platini is the right man for the new phase because this stage needs young blood, and minds which can understand the international needs – not just the European ones.”
Like Ali, Chung says Platini is not the right candidate to bring in the type of changes that FIFA needs to be more transparent in its operations.
The Korean is now an honorary FIFA VP, which allows him to stand in the elections. He said he is now “legally separate” from his family’s conglomerate Hyundai – which is a FIFA sponsor – meaning he has no conflict of interest.
“We know Michel Platini was a great footballer – he’s my good friend – but his problem is he does not appreciate the seriousness of the nature of the current crisis,” the 63-year-old told CNN.
“When we talk about FIFA’s corruption program he replies that he didn’t know about the corruption. I believe him but that’s not good enough for him to say that.”
Platini’s spokesman told CNN he had no immediate response to Chung’s comments, but the UEFA chief would “address all of this” at a press conference at the end of this month.
Blatter has also insisted he was unaware of the corruption which has allegedly beset FIFA in recent years.
“He is a very smart person,” Chung said of the 79-year-old. “He can speak five different languages but I think that one of his major problems is that he is very smart but doesn’t know how to respect his own colleagues. That’s a big problem.”
Chung said world football needs a president who will continue to develop the fortunes of regions such as Asia and Africa, which are still catching up with the traditionally powerful European nations.
“If those major cities in Asia and Africa have good football clubs who can compete with European clubs, then that’s the future of football and I want to do my best for the realisation of that vision,” he said.
Chung says Blatter should step down now, rather than wait until his successor is appointed next year.
“The EU Parliament announced two months ago that he should step down immediately. We need an Extraordinary Congress or an Extraordinary Executive Committee meeting to choose an interim president who can take care of the business.”
To stand in the February 26 election, candidates will need letters of support from at least five FIFA member nations. Paltini, Chung, ex-Brazil player Zico and Liberian FA chairman Musa Bility have announced their intention to run for president.
FIFA was plunged into crisis in late May when seven officials were charged for racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering by the FBI.
The charges are part of a U.S. prosecution that indicted a total of 14 people from around the globe.
Meanwhile, a separate probe by Swiss authorities is investigating potential corruption into the bidding process for both the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Qatar’s controversial bid for the latter was backed by Platini, and the tournament has since been switched from the emirate’s summer months to the winter following concerns over unsafe temperatures.