Fifa head hopeful Chung accuses Blatter of dirty tricks
FIFA presidential hopeful Chung Mong Joon yesterday accused Sepp Blatter of trying to smear him via the world football governing body's ethics committee, in a bid to force the South Korean to drop his candidacy.
Mr Chung said the committee had launched an "unfair" hearing to suspend him for up to 19 years, at the behest of Fifa's scandal-hit president.
The investigation is based on alleged vote-trading and other wrongdoings related to bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup.
"People say Fifa's ethics committee is Mr Blatter's 'hitman'. They never hit him but only those who challenge Mr Blatter," Mr Chung told reporters.
The South Korean said he was under scrutiny for letters he sent in 2010 to Fifa executive members about the creation of a Global Football Fund (GFF).
South Korea proposed the fund to support football projects, valued at US$777 million, as it was bidding to host the World Cup.
"No money or personal favours were exchanged in relation to GFF," Mr Chung said, adding Fifa had closed the case in 2010 with no charges made against him.
"Ethics committee is not charging me with criminal offence, and it is not charging me with 'bribery,' 'corruption' or 'conflict of interest'," he said. "All that the ethics committee is relying on is that I have not fully 'cooperated' or 'collaborated' with the investigation and that I had violated 'confidentiality' requirements."
That closed case has now been revived and could see him suspended for 15 years along with an additional four years for defaming the committee, Mr Chung said.
"The fundamental reason why I am being targeted is that I aimed straight at the existing power structure of Fifa," he said.
Such a "retroactive sanction" sought by the committee is based only on testimonies from Mr Blatter and his former right-hand man, secretary general Jerome Valcke.
Mr Valcke himself was suspended over allegations that he was aware of a black market ticket scheme surrounding last year's World Cup, though he has denied the claims.
Mr Chung refused to present himself to the hearing unless Mr Blatter and Mr Valcke come together as witnesses.
Bound by confidentiality rules, Fifa's ethics committee has not made any statements on Mr Chung's case and there was no immediate response to his comments.
The crisis of world football began in May, when nine Fifa officials and five sports marketing executives were charged by the United States justice department over bribery worth more than US$150 million dating back to 1991.
Uefa president Michel Platini had been the favourite to take over, but Mr Chung is another leading candidate along with Prince Ali al Hussein, a former Fifa vice-president from Jordan.
Mr Chung has said that if elected, he will stand for only one term to carry out reforms.