- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 21, 2015

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - 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.

“Blatter has been doing whatever he wants with FIFA for 40 years since his days as general secretary, and while he said he’s going out, it doesn’t seem he really is,” Chung told the AP in a telephone interview Tuesday. “Letting Blatter manage FIFA and design reform plans before the February vote is comedy.”

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.

Chung said he plans to consult leaders of regional confederations and other key figures before he finalizes his decision whether to run for FIFA’s top job. If he becomes president, Chung said he would aim to eliminate corruption and improve its accounting transparency. He said he would also try to strengthen football in Asia and other regions where the sport has most room to grow.

“I am positively considering running for the presidency and will be able to reveal my decision soon,” he said.

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.

When asked about his potential chances, Chung said “there is no such thing as an easy election.”

“I have tried several times to become FIFA president, experienced parliamentary elections and also tried to become South Korean president,” he said, “so you could trust me on that.”

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