FIFA presidential hopeful Chung Mong-joon criticises Michel Platini
South Korea's former FIFA vice president Chung Mong-joon has criticised the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) for endorsing fellow presidential aspirant and UEFA president Michel Platini, whom he says isn't the right person to usher in a new era of football.
Chung, a prominent Korean businessman, is contemplating formally announcing his candidature for FIFA presidency in Paris on Aug. 17.
Speaking to Malaysian newspaper The Star, 61-year-old Chung questioned the decision of AFC president Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa to describe Platini as "a unique candidate" while urging member associations to unite behind a single candidate.
"AFC president Sheikh Salman is an old friend whom I will meet soon," said Chung. "I like Platini. He was a popular footballer. But I don't know whether he's the right person to introduce a new era in FIFA. We have to close Blatter's chapter in FIFA and open a new one. Why do we still need a protégé?"
Chung, a controlling shareholder in Korean multinational business conglomerate Hyundai Heavy Industries Group, was a key figure in helping South Korea win co-hosting rights to the 2002 World Cup. A FIFA vice president for 17 years, he was once considered a candidate to succeed Blatter before losing his seat in 2011.
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Chung reiterated his position of a non-European head for the global governing body of football.
"All previous FIFA presidents, with the exception of Brazilian Joao Havelange, have been from Europe," he said. "In fact, it can be said that even Havelange is of European descent. Time has come to change this in FIFA.
"Football in Europe is of the highest quality, I agree. But this does not mean the FIFA president must be from the continent by default. The United Nations is headquartered in the United States but has not had an American secretary general. That is the way a global organisation must be run.
"Europe has more or less realised its full football potential. The new FIFA president must focus on developing the game in other continents.
"Asia, Africa and CONCACAF together constitute more than 80 percent of the world's population. Asia alone has 4.4 billion people. So there is immense potential to develop the sport in Asia and other non-European continents, who deserve a larger share of FIFA's financial resources to develop the sport in the less affluent member national associations."
Chung said his experience of bringing the first World Cup to Asia and his vast experience as the president of the Korean national association are his main assets if he formally announces to run for the FIFA presidency.
"If I choose to run for the presidency, one of my advantages will be that I worked with the Korean FA for 16 years," he said. "I started with a small budget of $3 million, and now the Korean FA's budget is around $70 million. So, I have a proven track record of developing a national association, making it affluent and successfully delivering the 2002 World Cup with them."
The FIFA presidential election takes place at an extraordinary congress in Zurich next February.