SEOUL - South Korea's Chung Mong-joon has said he is facing a 15-year suspension by FIFA's Ethics Committee, hampering his campaign for the FIFA Presidency, but he has denied any wrongdoing and vowed to continue his bid to lead football's world governing body.
Speaking at a news conference in Seoul on Tuesday, Chung read out a nine-page statement, addressing the accusations against him, which he dismissed as a ploy "to prevent me from running for the President of FIFA."
Chung said the charges against him stemmed from his "support" for South Korea's 2022 World Cup bid when he proposed the launch of a Global Football Fund (GFF).
Chung said his proposals were in line with FIFA's rules and had already been investigated and cleared but he was being targeted because he was running for the FIFA Presidency.
"The fundamental reason why I am being targeted is that I aimed straight at the existing power structure of FIFA," Chung said.
The scion of Korea's Hyundai industrial conglomerate, Chung vowed to fight the charges, adding "ultimately, I will prevail and will be vindicated."
In November, Chung was named in FIFA's Ethics report into the bidding process for the World Cup in 2018 and 2022, in which South Korea made a bid to host.
The report followed an investigation led by US lawyer Michael Garcia and looked into letters that Chung sent, in late 2010, to FIFA executive committee members about a proposal to establish a "Global Football Fund" for football development.
"According to those letters, Korea intended to raise US$777 million from 2011 to build new football infrastructure and renovate existing facilities," said the report, which added that the fund was linked to South Korea's 2022 bid.
Chung, a 63-year-old billionaire who previously served as a FIFA vice-president, formally announced in August that he was running for the FIFA presidency.
The incumbent, Sepp Blatter, is to stand down in February.
Chung has been heavily critical of Blatter, who has run FIFA for the past 17 years and recently become the focus of a criminal investigation.
Blatter has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with any crimes.
Chung said at the outset of his campaign that he feared Blatter would sabotage his bid, describing the Ethics Committee as Blatter's "hitman".
"The true danger is that they are not only sabotaging my candidacy. They are sabotaging FIFA's election and FIFA itself," Chung said.
"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."