Chung Mong-joon withdraws from FIFA presidential race, vows to keep fighting

October 26, 2015
Chung Mong-joon pauses to answer questions during a news conference in Seoul, South Korea. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Chung Mong-joon pauses to answer questions during a news conference in Seoul, South Korea. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — Veteran South Korean football administrator Chung Mong-joon on Monday withdrew his FIFA presidential candidacy, vowing to keep trying to bring changes to the organization marred by corruption allegations.

Chung made his announcement on his blog, mjfairplay.com, which opened on Monday for both Korean and English-speaking audiences. Chung was slapped with a six-month ban on Oct. 8 by FIFA’s Ethics Committee. Then last week, a Swiss court rejected Chung’s petition to lift the ban temporarily so he could formally register as a FIFA presidential candidate by Monday, essentially ruling out his chances of running in the Feb. 26 election to replace embattled incumbent, Sepp Blatter.

In his blog, Chung reiterated his earlier claims that he received “unjust sanctions” from FIFA, which banned him from all football activities “on a national and international level,” and also fined him 100,000 Swiss francs (US$102,140) for violating FIFA rules during South Korea’s bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

As he pulled himself out of the race, Chung, a FIFA vice president from 1994 to 2011, said his work in international football is far from finished.

“Even though I can no longer stand for FIFA President, there is much left for me to do,” he wrote. “I will continue to work with all those who love football to bring about legitimate changes from within FIFA. As someone who loves football, I will continue to speak out frankly about FIFA’s problems.”

Chung had been under fire for proposing to create the Global Football Fund during South Korea’s bidding, which the Ethics Committee said “gave the appearance of offering benefits” to certain countries.

Chung pointed out that he was penalized not for alleged vote trading during the bid, but for violating “general obligation to collaborate” and “duty of disclosure,” among other vague articles in the FIFA rule book.

“By imposing unjust sanctions against me, the FIFA Ethics Committee is telling me to stay away from FIFA,” he wrote. “That is not a problem. I always believed that the FIFA presidency is merely a position of service, not power. However, I will find other ways to serve. I believe that the true way to serve FIFA is by continuing to speak out against FIFA’s hypocritical system.”

Chung also argued that thorough investigations are necessary to prevent future corruptions and that Blatter must also be brought to justice for evading responsibilities for past cases.

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