On the Recent Developments at FIFA (2015.10.06)

“On the Recent Developments at FIFA”

Dr. MJ Chung
October 6, 2015

As maliciously leaked through the media by FIFA insiders, I am facing suspension by the Ethics Committee for alleged wrongdoings during the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bid process.

I am disappointed but not surprised. From the beginning, it was clear that the Ethics Committee was undertaking this so-called “investigation” to prevent me from running for President of FIFA.

Since July, my friends in FIFA have been telling me that the FIFA Ethics Committee would sanction me. Who are these friends, you ask? One was a FIFA ExCo member and the other was a Confederation representative.

Ever since I announced my candidacy, numerous leaks of confidential information from the Ethics Committee have been made to the press. The most recent leak even specified the dates on which the Ethics Committee would announce the sanctions against me. They learned this “from highly-placed FIFA executive committee and ethics committee sources.”1

Can you guess who these highly-placed FIFA executives might be? I’ll leave it to you to decide.

Today, I feel really relieved, because people asked me whether the Ethics Committee is investigating me. I have long held my silence on the on-going Ethics Committee investigations out of respect for the confidentiality requests from FIFA Ethics Committee. I have spoken out a couple of times, but only to correct the outright false information regarding the charges that I face.

However, now is the time for me to set the record straight.

I am proud that for 17 years as Vice President of FIFA, I have taken the higher road and never shied away from speaking out against the corruption within FIFA. In October 1995, a year after I joined FIFA, I gave a speech at the International Sports Press Association (AIPS) meeting calling for more transparency and collective wisdom in FIFA. To me, this was common sense.

However, at a FIFA ExCo meeting two months later in Paris, President Joao Havelange angrily asked me why I had raised the issue of transparency. He got so angry that he kept pounding the table and the simultaneous translators could not translate what he was yelling at me.

At the time, I did not know why he was so angry. Now I do. From 1992-2000, President Havelange was paid $50 million in bribes by a company named ISL. One day, General Secretary Blatter came across a CHF 1.5 million transfer from ISL to a FIFA account with a note attached saying that the payment was for President Havelange. Instead of starting an inquiry, Mr. Blatter simply returned the check to ISL. Mr. Blatter should have been given a life-time ban. If they had, FIFA would not face today’s crisis. [Appendix 1]

People say that FIFA’s Ethics Committee is Mr. Blatter’s “hitman.” They never hit him but only those who challenge Mr. Blatter.

Yet what are these “corruption” charges that I face? Unlike Mr. Blatter, Mr. Valcke and Mr. Platini, I am not facing any allegations of bribery, fraud, corruption, or conflict of interest. [Appendix 2]

Contrary to the media speculation based on leaks, there is no “probe” against charitable donations that I made to Haiti and Pakistan in the past. In addition to Haiti and Pakistan, I have made numerous personal donations, starting with the 1999 Turkey earthquake relief, Bangladesh disaster relief, China earthquake relief and Myanmar cyclone relief funds. [Appendix 3]

The main charges against me are “vote-trading” with England and my “support” for the Korean Bidding Committee for 2022 World Cup.

The Ethics Committee eventually dropped the vote-trading charge. Even they thought the allegations could not be substantiated. [Appendix 4]

I am now under scrutiny by the Ethics Committee for letters I sent to my fellow Executive Committee members explaining a proposal by the Korean Bidding Committee to launch a “Global Football Fund” (GFF), which according to the Ethics Committee “appeared” improper.

For Executive Committee members to support the bid of their countries is not only a time-honored tradition at FIFA, but also a natural, patriotic thing to do. Moreover, there were no FIFA regulations that prohibit ExCo members from supporting their countries’ bid. That is why, in addition to myself, all ExCo members whose countries bid for the 2018 and 2022 Games, namely, Angel Maria Villar of Spain, Geoff Thompson of England, Michel D’Hooghe of Belgium, Mohamed Bin Hammam of Qatar, Junji Ogura of Japan, and Vitaly Mutko of Russia actively campaigned for their respective countries’ bid.

There was nothing unusual about GFF. The GFF was perfectly in line with the football development projects that FIFA asked every bidding country to propose as part of their bid requirement.

No money or personal favors were exchanged in relation to GFF and no such charges were made against me.

England’s bid team for the 2018 World Cup proposed a “Football United” fund which was described as, “a unique chance to create a new global fund for football that aims to match FIFA’s current spend on football development . . . imagine what this would mean for your Confederation.”

If the scope of Football United fund was intended to “match FIFA’s current spend on football development,” this would overwhelm the GFF by 10 times.

In its bid for World Cup 2022, Qatar proposed “grassroots and talent-scouting programmes in Thailand and Nigeria,” “support through football in 16 schools in Nepal and Pakistan,” and “construction of 22 modular stadiums for countries in need,” among other things.

In 2010, FIFA had been aware of the existence of my letters, investigated the “issue” and ultimately determined the matter closed. Secretary General Valcke wrote to me and Dr. Han Sung-joo, the Chairman of the Korea Bid Committee, that “[b]ased on explanations given by you and Dr. Mo[ng]-Joon Chung, please be informed that we consider the integrity of the Bidding Process not to be affected and consequently deem the matter as closed.” [Appendix 5]

Yet the Ethics Committee has now asked for 15 years of sanction for this. With the campaign season starting, even issues that had been closed many years ago, have a way of being revived. According to a transcript that the Ethics Committee sent me in July, when they asked about such a letter, both Mr. Blatter and Mr. Valcke feigned “surprise.” I did not know that they were suffering from memory-loss as well.

When misleading leaks started circulating in the media in August, I requested FIFA Disciplinary Committee to investigate. A little more than a month later, the Disciplinary Committee ruled that there was no “evidence” and closed the matter. The same day, news articles started to report my suspension.2

When I spoke out against AFC President Salman’s activities in mailing form letters in support of Platini, the Ad-hoc Electoral Committee also promptly issued a perfunctory “no evidence” letter. The Committee refused to even proceed with any fact finding, when the AFC itself was unable to deny that it had been sending the form letters. On the other hand, when a FIFA staff member leaked a document detailing Mr. Platini’s wrongdoings, the Ethics Committee had an investigation and he was promptly fired by FIFA. Is this justice? [Appendix 6]

The same Ethics Committee that seems as unwilling as incapable of holding anything confidential is accusing me of “breaching confidentiality.” They then added more sanctions for allegedly “defaming” FIFA Ethics Committee.

FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee, Electoral Committee and Ethics Committee have all refused my requests and appeals with uncharacteristic speed and efficiency. This is in stark contrast to the ISL case in which the Ethics Committee began its investigation only in 2012, 7 years after Swiss authorities investigated, only to exonerate Mr. Blatter.

The fundamental reason why I am being targeted is that I aimed straight at the existing power structure of FIFA.
FIFA touting “ethical attitude” and “defamation” while caught up in its own corruption scandal would be laughable, if the repercussions were not so serious.

FIFA’s “defamation” has been entirely self-inflicted. The independence of its Ethics Committee has been irreparably damaged by its own behavior over the years.

If the Ethics Committee was truly independent, it should have banned Mr. Blatter for life for the ISL case 20 years ago. Both Mr. Blatter and Mr. Valcke should have been banned for life for their criminal manipulation of the VISA-MasterCard Case. [Appendix 7]

Let us look at the case of Harold Mayne-Nichols, the Chilean who led the inspection teams for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding nations, who was banned by the Ethics Committee for seven years. This was because he had an email exchange with the head of a football camp in Qatar, asking if his son might be able to train there at his own expense. Nothing came of the exchange, but Mayne-Nichols was banned from football for seven years. This is a travesty of justice.

On the other hand, Michel Platini admittedly voted for Qatar and his son landed a job at Burrda, a Qatar-owned firm as its chief executive. However, the Ethics Committee did not even start an investigation.

The New York Times said “the word ‘FIFA’ coupled with the word ‘ethics’ is seen by most as an oxymoron.”3

At a US Senate hearing on FIFA in July, a European journalist said, “FIFA is now a smelly shell. His hitmen are working to eliminate rivals. ”

During the same hearing, a US Senator said, “The fact of the matter is that what has been revealed so far is a mafia-style crime syndicate in charge of this sport. My only hesitation in using that term is that it is almost insulting to the mafia because the mafia would never have been so blatant, overt, and arrogant in its corruption. The simple fact is, this indictment ….. shows a crime organization, a racketeering conspiracy.”

I harbor no illusions about the Ethics Committee hearing. My request to call Mr. Blatter and Mr. Valcke as major witnesses was denied. I find the whole proceeding to be a sham.

The procedure has been fundamentally flawed, flouting legal principles respected in every law abiding society. The Ethics Committee’s main charge of “appearing to offer a benefit” is based on 2012 regulation that did not even exist in 2010. The retroactive sanction now being attempted by the Ethics Committee is against fundamental precepts of law.

To attack my credibility, the Ethics Committee relies on the testimonies of two major witnesses, Mr. Blatter and Mr. Valcke. However, it refused to provide the full transcripts of its interviews with them. These “credible” witnesses are now facing criminal investigations by Swiss authorities. The failure to even provide the underlying evidence tramples upon the basic due process rights codified in FIFA’s own Ethics Code as the “right to be heard”.

A fair hearing is fundamentally impossible when the Ethics Committee alleges that I defamed the Ethics Committee itself, but that it will be the judge in the case against me. As an accused, I am to be judged by the alleged victim of my alleged wrongdoing. No one should be allowed to be his or her own judge – another fundamental principle of law ignored by the Ethics Committee.

Ultimately, I will prevail and will be vindicated. But with the tactics employed by the Ethics Committee and its complete disregard for due process, justice will not be served at the Ethics Committee hearing and my candidacy will be jeopardized.

Dear friends of football.

The true danger is that they are not only sabotaging my candidacy. They are sabotaging FIFA’s election and FIFA itself.

As preposterous as it may sound, there are media reports that Mr. Blatter plans to stay on as President once all the presidential candidates are forced out.

However, the election is in danger of being turned into a farce.

I believe that we should leave it to the global community of good sense to render the final verdict on whether I have the integrity and the standing to be a candidate for FIFA President.

Before I close, I wish to share with you my thoughts on FIFA.

What is FIFA?

FIFA is a sports NGO. However, while there is a lot of politicking at FIFA, there seems to be little sportsmanship.

What is sportsmanship? It means respect and concern for colleagues.

At FIFA, however, money and power have blinded Mr. Blatter to the values of sportsmanship. They have become desensitized to the values and norms of the society at large.

When Mr. Harold Mayne-Nichols was so unjustly hit with a 7 year ban, not a single national association or a confederation stood up for Mr. Harold Mayne-Nichols. This is not normal. This is not healthy.

In June, the European Parliament urged Blatter to resign. Recently, it was joined by the British government and some of FIFA’s sponsors. I appreciate their efforts. But they are friends of football, not the constituents of FIFA. The constituents of FIFA are the national associations. Therefore, it is not right for national association to remain bystanders. FIFA is much sicker than it looks.

This is the very culture of fear and contempt that I encountered over the years.

Mr. Blatter has corrupted FIFA by undermining the independence of confederations and national associations. As a paid president, every minute of his time belongs to FIFA and should be used for FIFA. However, he has repeatedly meddled in confederation elections, during UEFA election of 2007 for Mr. Platini and in 2011 when he reportedly backed Prince Ali.

When FIFA is in total meltdown and Mr. Blatter’s dynasty is coming to an end, still few dare to speak out against him. That is why he continues to stay in office.

Reforming FIFA is easier said than done. We need to first change the passive way of dealing with FIFA before we can bring any meaningful reforms.

Confederations and national associations must reclaim their independence. They should not hide behind the curtain of fear and contempt, but speak out. Instead of trying to exploit FIFA, we should all try to nurture and strengthen it.

That is the only way to change the relationship of fear and contempt to one of solidarity and respect. Without changing the culture of FIFA, what good would it do to change the president?

Reforming FIFA will be painful. Changing the culture of FIFA is a monumental task. It is a task that requires a critical knowledge of how FIFA has operated in the past as well as an objective understanding of what went wrong.

Finally, the fact that I am the target of Mr. Blatter’s smear campaign is clearly the most powerful endorsement for my candidacy for the FIFA Presidency and the best proof that I am the person to lead FIFA’s reforms.

Thank you.

1.“Exclusive: Chung election bid in doubt as ethics investigators close in,” Insider World Football, October 2, 2015

2.“Chung election bid in doubt as ethics investigators close in,” Inside World Football, October 2, 2015

3.“FIFA’s Captain Clings to the Helm of His Sinking Ship,” The New York Times, 26 September, 2015

[국문(Korean version)] 최근의 FIFA 상황에 대하여 (2015.10.06)