FIFA presidential candidate Chung Mong-joon yesterday said that payments he made to Haiti and Pakistan in 2010 were “charitable donations” and any attempt to use them as part of a reported ethics investigation was “cynical and unethical.”
Responding to media reports that world soccer’s governing body was investigating the South Korean billionaire over the “disaster relief” funds, Chung said in a statement that he had been donating money to causes at home and abroad since the 1990s.
“Recent media reports allege that FIFA has started an investigation into FIFA honorary vice president Chung Mong-Joon’s 2010 donations to disaster relief funds to Haiti and Pakistan,” the statement said. “If these reports are true, we condemn this as a cynical and unethical effort by FIFA to misrepresent even charitable donations for political manipulation.”
FIFA Ethics Committee does not comment on ongoing cases and there has been no confirmation from the governing body that Chung is in their crosshairs.
The scion of Korea’s Hyundai industrial conglomerate on Monday formally launched his bid to replace FIFA president Sepp Blatter, delivering a stinging attack on Blatter and Michel Platini, head of Europe’s ruling body UEFA and a rival candidate for the FIFA presidency.
Blatter responded by saying that he was “disturbed” by Chung’s criticism, adding that the South Korean had been an influential member of FIFA for 17 years until 2011.
FIFA is to hold an elective congress on Feb. 26 to decide on a replacement for Blatter, who is standing down following the organization’s corruption scandals.
US prosecutors indicted nine soccer officials, most of whom had FIFA positions, and five marketing and broadcasting company executives in May over a range of alleged offenses, including fraud, money-laundering and racketeering.
Blatter was re-elected for a fifth term as FIFA president on May 29, but four days later said he would lay down his mandate amid the worst crisis in the body’s history.
Chung, who last month said he was wary of Blatter trying to sabotage his campaign, also said in the statement he had provided relief assistance to many different nations, including Turkey, Bangladesh, China and Myanmar.
“As chairman of the Asan Foundation, the largest philanthropic organization in Korea, Chung also helped the foundation provide medical assistance to victims of the Indonesian tsunami, 2005 Pakistan earthquake and Sri Lankan tsunami,” the statement said.
“In January 2010, as chairman of the ruling Grand National Party in the Korean National Assembly, Chung also announced at a party meeting he would personally donate money to earthquake relief efforts in Haiti,” it added.
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