FIFA election tension has been ramped up with Michel Platini and Sheikh Salman from Bahrain being reported to FIFA’s ethics committee for a breach of campaign regulations.
A complaint against the presidents of the European and Asian confederations (UEFA and the AFC) has been raised by Chung Mong-joon, the South Korean billionaire competing with Platini to succeed Sepp Blatter as president of the world football federation.
Blatter was re-elected for a fifth term in office in May but almost immediately decided to step down under the weight of the FIFAGate scandal. An elevtion congress will be staged next February 26. Platini and Chung are the two declared ‘heavyweight’ contenders.
Chung, who was Asia’s FIFA vice-president for 17 years until 2011, revealed his latest ‘dirty tricks’ complaint in Seoul today. He has already attacked Blatter’s office with an allegation of unwarranted interference in the election campaign.
The 63-year-old’s anger is directly specifically at the AFC for seeking to subvert the election by sending templates of a letter in support of Platini to many of its 46 member associations.
Chung complained: “The letter is clearly defined as ‘support of the candidature of Mr MP for the office of FIFA president, to be elected at the next FIFA extraordinary congress 2016.’
“It further states that “…just for good order, we wish to confirm that [NAME ASSOCIATION] is supporting only Mr MP and, accordingly, we did not sign any other declaration of support for another candidate for the office of FIFA president.”
Chung further alleged that the “director and staff members of AFC’s department of member associations and development has made private phone calls to individual member associations, checking to see whether they sent in completed form letters to FIFA.”
He claimed that similar round-robin attempts had been made in Africa by a senior official of the Confederation of African Football and “it is likely that similar incidents have occurred at other confederations.”
The central issue, for Chung, was that the confederations have no formal role in the election process but, given their influence, “it is clear that the fairness of the FIFA presidential election has been seriously compromised.”
Turning his fire directly on Platini and Sheikh Salman he added: “The electoral committee’s guidelines emphasize that candidates holding official positions within FIFA should not abuse their position of power in the election process.
“If Salman and Platini are taking advantage of their status as the AFC and UEFA presidents and seeking to intervene in the election process, their actions are in breach of the basic principles of election and violate FIFA’s spirit of ‘fair play.’”
Hence a formal complaint had been raised with electoral committee chair Domenico Scala and with ethics committee head Cornel Borbely.
The AFC, in a statement of response to Chung’s attack, confirmed that Sheikh Salman had expressed his support for Platini. In contacting some associations it had been responding to the “many AFC member associations [who] have, unsurprisingly, contacted AFC to ask how they can express their support for a specific candidate.”