COULD a billionaire automotive magnate be the man to drive reform at the top of world football?
South Korean Chung Mong-Joon, who owns a controlling stake in the Hyundai Group, is joining the race to replace Sepp Blatter as president of FIFA, an aide told CNN Thursday.
The 63-year-old tycoon is expected to formally announce his campaign to lead football’s global governing body next week.
Former French footballer Michel Platini, now chief of European football body UEFA, announced his candidacy Wednesday, while in June, Brazilian great Zico also confirmed his decision to stand.
Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, who failed to unseat Blatter in the last presidential elections in May, is as yet undecided whether to add his name to the shortlist of candidates for one of the most powerful jobs in world sport.
FIFA has recently been embroiled in scandal after the United States indicted 14 people, including nine top FIFA officials, on corruption charges. Swiss authorities simultaneously opened a separate investigation into how the 2018 and 2022 World Cups were awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively.
Chung revealed his intentions in a series of interviews with news agencies in Seoul Thursday, explaining that he was seeking a single four-year term as FIFA president.
“I am going to stand as a candidate for the FIFA presidency,” he told the Reuters news agency. “It’s not easy, but people don’t want to be part of corruption. They want to be part of the solution.
“We cannot leave FIFA in this kind of disgrace.”
Blatter was elected for a fifth term in May despite FIFA being swamped by corruption charges but, just days later, the Swiss 79-year-old announced he would step down as head of world soccer, though only after his successor had been elected.
A new president won’t be chosen until 26 February 2016, and candidates have until 26 October 2015 to secure support from at least five FIFA member associations and add their name to the ballot sheet.
As a former vice-president of FIFA and head of the South Korean Football Association, Chung is considered a strong force in Asian football.
Commenting on his presidential rival Platini to Reuters, Chung said: “He’s a good person, I like him very much, but if you ask me if this is a good time for Michel to become president of FIFA, right after Sepp Blatter, I don’t think this is good news for FIFA and I don’t think it’s good for Michel either.”
Chung is part of his father Ju-Yung Chung’s self-made dynasty, which founded the powerful Hyundai Group of companies, which has interests ranging from motor cars to ship building.
He was educated at the Massachusetts of Institute of Technology and then the private John Hopkins University in Baltimore.
In addition to his business interests, Chung entered politics and was also president of the Korean Football Association (KFA) during the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea.
During his 17-year tenure as head of the KFA, the association’s budget reportedly increased from $3 million to about $100 million
According to Forbes, he is also worth $1.2 billion and is married with four children. – CNN