SEOUL - Former Fifa vice-president Chung Mong Joon, one of the most influential figures in Asian football, said yesterday that he is entering the race to replace Sepp Blatter as president of football's world governing body.
Mr Chung, the 63-year-old billionaire scion of South Korea's Hyundai industrial conglomerate, said in an interview that he would make a formal announcement next month in Europe, which he called "the centre of world football".
"I am going to stand as a candidate for the Fifa presidency," he said, acknowledging he had a tough fight ahead of him. "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."
Mr Chung said he did not yet have the required backing of five Fifa federations that would allow him to stand, but was confident of getting the required support.
"I hope to have more than five nominations," he said, adding he had received assurances of support from within Concacaf on a recent trip to the United States. Concacaf is the ruling body for football in North and Central America, and the Caribbean.
While Uefa chief Michel Platini, 60, appears to be the strong favourite to succeed Blatter, with four of the six Fifa confederations reportedly backing him, Mr Chung said the Frenchman was not the right person for the job.
"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."
Blatter was re-elected for a fifth term as Fifa president on May 29, but said four days later that he would lay down his mandate amid the worst crisis in the body's history. He will stay on until the election on Feb 26.
In late May, US federal prosecutors in New York indicted nine football officials, most of whom held or had held Fifa positions, and five sports media and promotion executives in alleged schemes involving US$150 million (S$206 million) in bribes over a period of 24 years.
Prosecutors said their investigation exposed complex money laundering schemes, millions of dollars in untaxed income and tens of millions of dollars in offshore accounts held by the football officials.