SEOUL Chung Mong-joon is taking his fight against a lengthy ban from football to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) as part of a decades-long battle to reform the game's governing body, the former FIFA vice president said on Thursday.
The South Korean's bid to replace Sepp Blatter as FIFA president was torpedoed in 2015 when the governing body banned him from all football-related activities for six years and fined him 100,000 Swiss francs ($99,800) following a probe into corruption.
FIFA's Appeals Committee reduced Chung's ban to five years and cut the fine in half last July, saying there was not enough evidence to prove he had infringed an article of FIFA's ethics code covering confidentiality.
Chung, a billionaire scion of South Korea's Hyundai industrial conglomerate, denied all wrongdoing and vowed to take the case to sport's highest tribunal but had to wait to receive a 'reasoned decision' from FIFA, which arrived last month.
"I can finally prepare to file an appeal to CAS, some 18 months after the original ban was imposed," Chung said in a statement on Thursday.
"Fighting FIFA's ban is not about restoring my personal honour," he added. "It is an extension of the lonely fight to reform FIFA that I have been waging since 1994."
Chung said it was unethical for FIFA to have dragged out the case against him for so long.
"FIFA Ethics and Appeal Committees started the investigation against me with serious allegations such as 'vote trading' and 'appearance of offering benefits," he said.
"However, when none of them would hold, they started to pick on such technical and procedural issues as my use of FIFA letterhead, not cooperating with the investigation, etc.
"If they are such sticklers for rules of conduct, ethics and credibility, how was it that it took them so much time to send me their 'reasoned decision,' such that I am able to proceed with my appeal to CAS 18 months after their initial ban?
"As the saying goes, 'Justice delayed is justice denied.'”
Chung, who served as FIFA vice president from 1994 to 2011, said the last 18 months had been "difficult" and that there was little personal reward in continuing the fight.
"There is not much for me to gain personally by pursuing this route," he said. "However, I am committed to continue my fight against FIFA's old ways because I believe that it will contribute to FIFA's new beginning.
"While there is a new FIFA president in place, key individuals in the FIFA Ethics Committee and the Appeal Committee who were handpicked by Mr. Blatter still remain."
Soccer's global governing body is still recovering from the worst graft scandal in its history which has seen dozens of people, including former FIFA executive committee members, indicted in the United States.
Last week, FIFA said it had completed a 22-month internal inquiry into allegations of corruption and criminal misconduct and handed the report over to Swiss authorities.
($1 = 1.0020 Swiss francs)
(Editing by Nick Mulvenney)