FIFA elections are odd things. You can announce you're running for president or thinking of running for president but quickly discover you've got FIFA investigators after you. The latest example:
South Korean billionaire Chung Mong Joon
On Monday, Chung announced in Paris he was running for FIFA president.
On Tuesday, it was
revealed FIFA's ethics committee was investigating donations made by Chung, whose family controls Korean giant Hyundai, for donations made to help Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and Pakistan after
flooding the same year.
Chung, the second-largest shareholder in Hyundai's shipbuilding operation, sent $500,000 to Haiti and $400,000 to Pakistan for soccer projections. FIFA is looking
into what happened to the money. In the case of Haiti, former Concacaf president Jack Warner
is accused of misappropriating Haitian earthquake relief funds,
among the many schemes he operated through long career in soccer.
In 2010, Chung was a member of the FIFA executive committee. He lost his reelection bid to Prince Ali bin al-Hussein
of Jordan the following year. In 2010, South Korea was also one of the bidders for the 2022 World Cup.
Chung proposed a massive development fund to
the tune of $777 million that was later viewed by FIFA investigator Michael Garcia
in his report on the 2018 and 2022 bids to have "the appearance of a conflict
or an offer of benefits" to executive committee members voting on the bids.
Many expected Garcia's report to charge Russia and Qatar, the two winners, at the very least with massive
violations of bidding rules, but much of the criticism was of the activities of the losing bidders like South Korea. Harold Mayne-Nicholls
former president of Chile's soccer federation, headed the inspection team that examined the bids of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup host candidates in 2010. He was last year considering a run against Sepp
Blatter in 2015 when he was put on notice that a case was opened against him for ethics violations.
Mayne-Nicholls didn't run, but five weeks after Blatter was re-elected, FIFA's ethics
committee suspended him from all soccer activities for seven years. No reason for its decision was made public.
At Chung's press conference on Monday, he referred to FIFA as "a corrupt
organization," which resulted in an immediate rebuke from Blatter, who said Chung's remarks were "particularly disrespectful to all concerned."
On Wednesday, Chung said he was a potential victim
of "political manipulation."
"Recent media reports allege that FIFA has started an investigation into FIFA Honorary Vice President Dr. Chung Mong-Joon’s 2010 donations to disaster
relief funds to Haiti and Pakistan," said a statement he issued. "If these reports are true, we condemn this as a cynical and unethical effort by FIFA to misrepresent even charitable donations
for political manipulation."
The statement noted Chung was chairman of the largest philanthropic organization in Korea that often provided medical assistance to disaster victims.