Michel Platini is being outrun in the early stage of the great FIFA presidency race by Chung Mong-joon.
While the French head of European federation UEFA keeps his thoughts to himself – even when the international media is sitting expectantly at his feet – so Chung has set out his stall in clear and precise terms.
Platini, the only other heavyweight in contention to succeed departing Sepp Blatter at the world body’s extraordinary congress next February 26, will need to think hard to come up with proposals which are both different yet sharp enough to satisfy the critical vultures circling Zurich.
Chung, having launched his campaign in FIFA’s original Paris home last month, set out his campaign pledges in a manifesto launched over the weekend.
The 63-year-old South Korean billionaire was Asia’s FIFA vice-president for 17 years until 2011, an era which spanned the years of the ISL scandal and the power transfer to Blatter from long-serving Brazilian Joao Havelange. Subsequently Havelange was shown to have received millions of dollars in illicit commissions.
Hence Chung’s manifesto opens with a picture of him, after his appointment to the FIFA executive committee, together with Havelange and Blatter.
Chung says: “Joao Havelange and Sepp Blatter led FIFA for 40 years. Together, they made FIFA the most powerful sporting body. But we were all surprised and saddened by the scandals recently gripping the organisation.
“It is time for FIFA to open a new chapter. Continuity is important. But so is change.”
He sets out self-confidence in his own ability to open that new chapter by saying: “I am ready to seize this moment to rebuild FIFA. We have an unparalleled opportunity to re-define the future of FIFA.
“I will make FIFA an open, ethical, and truly global organsation. I promise to do my part in breathing new life into FIFA.”
One of the proposals of the original reform committee, supported by current audit committee chairman Domenico Scala, was for full transparency on pay. Chung picks this up early in his manifesto in a barely-veiled assault on the personality culture surrounding the FIFA leadership.
He says: “The job of the FIFA president should not be to enjoy the luxury of the office. The FIFA presidency should never become a position of privilege or entitlement. The president must be held accountable. All of the president’s financial information, such as salary, bonuses, and expenses, should be made public.
“This is just common sense.”
Chung proposes a better balance of power between the president, the exco and administration – meaning, presumably, the secretary-general [currently Jerome Valcke]. He also wants to remove from the president the power of patronage in nominating the heads of the important FIFA committees.
He also supports a term limit for the president and promises that, if elected, he would serve only one four-year term. One of the factors which stirred European anger against Blatter in recent years was his U-turn over a promise to retire.
Chung raises a more vague suggestion for an “open and empowered Congress” and an improved system for distributing development and support funds.
He also picks up on a proposal from the FIFA task force for women’s football, led by Australian Moya Dodd, for greater female representation at the game’s various levels. He would also “elevate the Women’s World Cup to a new dimension by raising the prize money.”
Chung’s manifesto concludes with a bullet-points list of his pledges. These are not only proposals but a challenge to Platini, whose ideas remain unknown, to come up with his own recipe for FIFA reform, and sooner rather than later.
The pace of Chung’s pursuit of FIFA’s top job recalls the manner in which he led South Korea’s late but aggressive pursuit of ultimate co-host rights with Japan for the 2002 World Cup.
Last week Chung complained to FIFA’s ethics committee that Platini and Asian confederation president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa had abused their positions within FIFA over an AFC letter to member associations proposing support for the Frenchman.
1, Strengthen ‘checks & balances’ between the presidency, the Executive Committee and judicial bodies;
2, Transform the Congress into an open forum;
3, Impose term limit on the President. I will serve one term;
4, Increase financial transparency;
5, Disclose the president’s salary, bonuses and expenses;
6, Increase the Financial Assistance Program (FAP) to national football associations, by adopting a more sensible and flexible mechanism of distribution;
7, Promote greater female representation at the various levels of FIFA;
8, Elevate the Women’s World Cup to a new dimension by raising the prize money.