October 12, 2015 12:19
The ethics committee of world football body FIFA on Thursday slapped Hyundai scion Chung Mong-joon with a six-year suspension and 100,000 Swiss franc fine for "defaming" the body.
Earlier FIFA warned it was suspending Chung for 19 years for promising sweeteners on a Korean World Cup bid.
Chung denies wrongdoing and claims the committee is out to get him. "This decision by the ethics committee has completely undermined the legitimacy and fairness of the next FIFA presidential election," Chung said in a statement.
The former lawmaker and long-term Korean football official has thrown his hat in the ring for the FIFA presidency as a massive corruption scandal engulfed perennial FIFA chief Sepp Blatter.
The FIFA ethics committee threatened to slap Chung with the 19-year suspension for sending letters to executive members of the football body offering to set up a US$700-million global football fund if it won the 2022 World Cup bid.
But the final decision did not mention the allegation, which a separate committee in 2010 said did not taint Korea's entire bid, and only suspended him on the lesser charge of defaming the committee in the process of arriving at this verdict.
Chung is refusing to accept the decision. "This shows that the investigation into my alleged violations has been fundamentally flawed and was merely an attempt to sabotage my candidacy for FIFA president," he said.
"The ethics committee is sanctioning me not for my alleged violations of 'vote-trading,' 'the appearance of offering a benefit,' and personal donations, but for my criticisms of the committee and my 'attitude' during the investigation," he added. "There is no clearer proof than this that the whole investigation has been a political ploy from the beginning."
The deadline to register for the FIFA presidential election is Oct. 26 and Chung has not registered yet.
The Korea Football Association said it would be difficult for Chung to register as a candidate, because the ethics committee's decision takes effect immediately. Even if he appeals, a separate committee must review the matter, and there are no regulations when it must be convened.
Chung has vowed to use "all legal means possible" to counter FIFA's decision.
The ethics committee also banned incumbent chief Sepp Blatter, along with UEFA President Michel Platini, Chung's most formidable rival candidate, and FIFA secretary general Jérôme Valcke, for 90 days on suspicions of bribery, malfeasance and embezzlement.
There are conflicting views about the fate of Platini, who is being investigated by Swiss prosecutors on charges of receiving W2.4 billion from Blatter (US$1=W1,161).
FIFA did not elaborate on the reasons for Platini's brief suspension, but critics wonder how Chung could have received a six-year suspension for mere rudeness.
The election to choose the next FIFA chief will take place on Feb. 26, 2016.
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