PARIS (Reuters) - South Korea’s Chung Mong-joon said on Monday that his French rival for the presidency of FIFA, Michel Platini, was too close to outgoing chief Sepp Blatter to be right for the job as head of soccer’s scandal-hit governing body.
Launching his bid for the role in Paris, Chung told a news conference “Michel Platini was a great football player, and he is my good friend. His problem is he does not seem to appreciate the seriousness of the corruption crisis at FIFA.”
Platini, the head of European governing body UEFA who joined the increasingly heated race for the top FIFA job last month, was not immediately available for comment.
The former French international has described Blatter as a friend, but has repeatedly called on him to quit since May when corruption allegations against FIFA came to a head and has said the scandal turned his stomach.
Former FIFA vice president Chung said Platini, who has been a FIFA executive committee member since 2002, should have done more to root out corruption.
“Recently, Platini said Blatter is his enemy, but we know the relationship was like mentor and protege, or father and son,” the 63-year-old billionaire scion of South Korea’s Hyundai industrial conglomerate said.
U.S. 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 offences, 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.
He is due to step down after an election in February for a replacement. He has not been accused of any wrongdoing, but his stewardship since 1998 of an organization where he was technical director in 1975 and general secretary from 1981 has been heavily criticized.
“The real reason FIFA has become such a corrupt organization is because the same person and his cronies have been running it for 40 years,” said Chung.
“If I’m elected I will serve only one term, four years. I can change FIFA in four years,” he added.
Chung also played up his Asian origins, saying it was time to boost the game in Asia and Africa after eight European FIFA presidents since its founding in 1904, and to put more money into the women’s game.
Ex-Brazil player Zico, former Trinidad and Tobago midfielder David Nakhid and Liberian FA chairman Musa Bility have also said they are running in the election. Jordan’s Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein and South African Tokyo Sexwale are also considering taking part.
Reporting by Andrew Callus; Editing by Andrew Heavens