FIFA presidential candidate Chung Mong-Joon said Wednesday he plans an “embezzlement” case against world football leader Sepp Blatter seeking more than $100 million from the sports baron he called “a hypocrite and a liar.”
The South Korean tycoon, who says he faces suspension by FIFA’s independent ethics committee, said he could also take legal action if he is stopped from taking part in the election to find a successor to Blatter in February.
Chung, a FIFA vice president for 17 years until 2011, condemned what he called Blatter’s “secretive” ways in not declaring his salary and taking payments without permission.
“That is why I plan to sue Mr Blatter for embezzlement,” Chung said, adding that he has hired a lawyer in Zurich, the home of FIFA. Blatter already faces a Swiss criminal investigation into his running of FIFA.
“The amount of money I can claim against President Blatter is in proportion with the amount of damage he inflicted on FIFA,” Chung told the Sport Business convention in London.
He said it had cost at least $100 million in 2006 when FIFA had to reach a settlement with credit card giant Mastercard over a sponsorship deal. “It must be bigger than that,” Chung said of the sum he would claim.
Any money awarded would go back to FIFA, he added.
Since announcing in August that he would be a candidate, Chung has become a fierce critic of Blatter.
He said Blatter had “repeatedly meddled” in the elections of major football confederations such as UEFA.
The billionaire said that when he was a FIFA vice president he “took pride” in wearing the blazer of football’s world body.
– Badge of shame –
“Now I will be laughed at or be attacked. FIFA has become a badge of shame,” he said.
“In short Mr Blatter is a hypocrite and a liar.”
Chung announced Tuesday that he faces a 19 year ban from football activities because of an investigation by FIFA’s independent ethics committee into his lobbying for South Korea’s bid for the 2022 World Cup.
He has said he has already been cleared once by FIFA and the case was a new attempt by Blatter to stop him running in the election.
Chung is one of three leading candidates for the FIFA presidency along with UEFA president Michel Platini and Prince Ali bin al Hussein, another former FIFA vice president from Jordan.
Platini had been considered favourite for the election. But the race has changed since the French football legend was implicated in the Swiss investigation into Blatter.
Platini received a $2million payment from FIFA in 2011 for consulting work done between 1998 and 2002. Swiss investigators said the payment is suspicious.
Chung said that Platini should investigated for declaring that he had voted for Qatar to get the 2022 World Cup. FIFA voting is meant to be confidential.
Blatter, meanwhile, has made it clear he will not resign as FIFA president and is determined to fight right up until the next election on February 26.
“I will only stop (working) on February 26 and not a day before,” Blatter told German magazine Bunte, which is due out on Thursday.
“I will fight until February 26. For me. And for FIFA. I am convinced that evil will come into the light and good will triumph.”
Having been re-elected as FIFA president on May 30, Blatter announced four days later as a corruption storm grew around FIFA that there would be a new election.
The US Justice Department has indicted 14 people, including nine FIFA officials over bribery in football and deals worth more than $150 million dating back to 1991.
Blatter denies any wrongdoing, but Swiss prosecutors say he is the target of a probe into “criminal mismanagement” at FIFA. – Agence France-Presse