South Korea's Chung Mong-Joon accused FIFA President Sepp Blatter Tuesday of trying to smear him by using the association's ethics committee to derail his shot at replacing Blatter. Chung, a former vice president of the international soccer governing body, said the ethics committee had launched an unfair hearing to suspend him for up to 19 years at the behest of Blatter, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.
Speaking at a news conference in Seoul, Chung said the charges against him by the committee rose from his support for South Korea’s 2022 World Cup bid when he proposed to launch a Global Football Fund, the Guardian reported.
“The true danger is that they are not only sabotaging my candidacy. They are sabotaging FIFA’s election and FIFA itself,” said Chung, according to the Guardian.
Chung had sent letters to FIFA members in 2010 about South Korea’s plan to raise $777 million to form a Global Football Fund for the development of football, which FIFA deemed improper, the Irish Examiner reported. The investigation is based on several charges relating to violations of the organization's code of ethics.
The crisis for FIFA began in May, when nine FIFA officials and five sports marketing executives were reportedly charged by the U.S. Justice Department for bribery and corruption worth more than $150 million since 1991.
"The fundamental reason why I am being targeted is that I aimed straight at the existing power structure of FIFA," Chung said at the news conference, according to Al Jazeera. "Ethics committee is not charging me with criminal offense, and it is not charging me with 'bribery,' 'corruption' or 'conflict of interest,'” he added.
Chung, the scion of the Hyundai industrial conglomerate, has vowed to prevail in the current crisis. "No money or personal favors were exchanged in relation to GFF," Chung said.
Chung is running for the FIFA presidency against Michel Platini, the president of the Union of European Football Associations. Platini is reportedly under investigation by Swiss authorities over a £1.35 million ($2.05 million) payment he received from Blatter.
According to a New York Times report, Swiss investigators announced that they had opened criminal proceedings against embattled FIFA president Blatter on “suspicion of criminal mismanagement and misappropriation."