LONDON — FIFA presidential candidate Chung Mong-joon was in a defiant mood in London on Wednesday, as the South Korean labelled current FIFA president Sepp Blatter “a liar and a hypocrite” before revealing that he plans to sue Blatter, the leader of FIFA for 17 years.
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Chung, 63, was speaking at the Leaders Sport Business Summit 2015′ held at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge home in London, and while he is currently under investigation by FIFA’s ethics committee, as he claims FIFA is trying to “sabotage” his presidential campaign, Chung launched a tirade of abuse against Blatter and the current regime as world soccer’s governing body continues to unravel amid separate corruption investigations from both the U.S. and Swiss governments.
Despite being a member of the FIFA executive committee for 17 years up until 2011, Chung stated that “this battle against FIFA has been a very lonely battle for me,” as he claimed fellow ExCo members were not willing to stand up and fight against Blatter.
From the get-go of his speech at a packed-out convention hall within Stamford Bridge, Chung went after Blatter as he detailed the 2007 court ruling which saw FIFA sued, and subsequently agreeing to pay $90 million in damages, by former sponsor Mastercard after the organization did not honor contractual obligations when switching to Visa.
“Mr. Blatter is a hypocrite and a liar,” Chung said. “I plan to sue Mr. Blatter on his embezzlement in court. In the Visa-Mastercard case the jury said FIFA is not fit to use the slogan of Fairplay. The judge used the word lied 13 times in her verdict. Those lies cost $100 million U.S. Dollars for FIFA. The Visa-Mastercard case should have been dealt as a criminal case. That was corruption.”
Chung spoke for over 30 minutes on his own before facing a moderated question session and then media questions.
“At FIFA, money and power have blinded Mr. Blatter to the values of sportsmanship,” Chung added. “Preposterously, Mr. Blatter and his associates are under the delusion that they are under the delusion that they are above human values and norms. They seem to live in a separate world. FIFA has become a corrupt organization only serving the interests of a few.”
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Speaking in a Q&A with journalists at the end of his speech, Chung was asked to go into more detail as to how much he planned to sue Blatter for and what he would do with the cash if he was successful. The South Korean said he has appointed a lawyer in Switzerland and will sue 79-year-old Blatter in his home country for at least $100 million.
“My understanding is that the amount of money I can claim against Mr. Blatter is in proportion with the amount of damage he inflicted on FIFA,” Chung said. “FIFA had to pay a $100 million fine. That happened in 2006, so it must be bigger than that. If I succeed the money will go back to FIFA. They must think how generous that would be and appreciate my offer.”
For large parts of the speech, Chung defended himself as he is currently under investigation from the ethics committee at FIFA.
He held up two letters from currently suspended FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke which he claims cleared him of any wrongdoing in the case of South Korea’s failed bid for the 2022 World Cup. It is alleged he was part of a vote swap with the England bid team for their failed 2018 World Cup bid but Chung vehemently denied any wrongdoing when repeatedly asked by the media if that occurred and if he voted for England 2018.
It was a show of defiance from the South Korean throughout but many journalists were still left underwhelmed by his lack of transparency, the very thing he is using as his key component to try and bring about change at FIFA. Chung greeted the waiting media after his speech was over and was keen to try and spread his message of innocence while also remaining hopeful of being able to be a candidate at the presidential elections on Feb. 26, 2016.
He needs at least five FIFA federations to back him in order to be a candidate for the vote, while the impending suspension that hangs over his head while he is investigated by the ethics committee is clouding his candidacy. He promises that if he replaces Blatter, he will clean up the corruption in “one four year term” and then he will step down.
Given the investigation surrounding him at the moment, Chung’s chances of running for FIFA president may be a long shot.