South Korean powerbroker Chung Mong-joon is leaning toward running for the FIFA presidency as a replacement for Sepp Blatter, telling The Associated Press that a non-European leader would help breathe "new wind' into soccer's international governing body. A former FIFA vice president, Chung also criticized the decision this week to allow Blatter to remain as president until the election on Feb. 26, despite calls for him to immediately step down amid mounting pressure to reform as U.S. and Swiss authorities investigate allegations of corruption.
Chung, who was a key figure in helping South Korea land the right to co-host the 2002 World Cup with Japan, has been a longtime critic of Blatter, whom he described as a dictatorial "little brat" in a memoir published in 2011. Chung was a FIFA vice president for 17 years and was once considered a candidate to succeed Blatter before losing his seat in 2011. The billionaire scion of the Hyundai business group has also been a South Korean lawmaker and presidential candidate.
The Feb. 26 date agreed by FIFA's executive committee on Monday was a political victory for Blatter over European governing body UEFA and its supporters in other continents who wanted a December ballot. UEFA President Michel Platini, Brazil great Zico and Liberia federation president Musa Bility are among the likely contenders to run for the FIFA presidency.