By Andrew Warshaw
February 12 – Former FIFA vice president Chung Mong-joon, for years one of world football’s most powerful administrators, has been cleared to work again after partially winning his appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport against his five-year ban for failing to cooperate with ethics investigators.
CAS have reduced the South Korean billionaire’s sanction for “improper lobbying” during the 2022 World Cup bidding process, and not fully cooperating in a subsequent investigation of all candidates, to 15 months.
The court said any violations were committed to “a far lesser degree” than FIFA’s ethics committee had judged and that his ban therefore effectively expired last month.
Chung, a scion of the Hyundai family, hoped to be a FIFA presidential candidate to succeed Sepp Blatter when was found guilty in 2015 of contravening rules while lobbying for his country’s bid to host the 2022 World Cup.
FIFA’s appeals committee itself reduced his initial six-year ban to five, saying there was not enough evidence to prove he had infringed an article of FIFA’s ethics code covering confidentiality. It also halved the fine imposed on him to CHF 50,000.
Now CAS has gone even further by slashing the length of the suspension and annulling the fine.
In a statement, CAS said a three-man panel of judges “confirmed the violation by Mr Chung of some rules of the FIFA code of ethics but to a far lesser degree than found by the FIFA instances.”
CAS said it was “common for FIFA executive committee members to promote the bids presented by their national football associations”.
The court also took into account his previous clean record but stressed the gravity of Chung’s misconduct “considering his high and influential positions at FIFA” and his status as “a member of both the body selecting the 2022 World Cup host and the honorary president of an association bidding for that same World Cup.”
Chung, whose cousin Chung Mong-gyu, is a member of the FIFA Council, has long complained that FIFA had dragged out his case deliberately. “This is like a court carrying out the execution of the defendant, then sending out the ruling 18 months later,” Chung said back in April last year.
CAS sympathised with that view saying it had taken FIFA’s “excessive and unjustified delays” into account.
In a statement Chung described the last few years as “a painful period in which my honour was violated.”
“From the start, I had steadfastly maintained that the whole process was a plot of former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, designed to keep me out of FIFA.”
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