Soccer

Chung says AFC broke election rules ahead of FIFA vote

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) South Korean billionaire Chung Mong-joon has accused the Asian Football Confederation of breaking electoral and ethical rules by lobbying for rival candidate Michel Platini in the upcoming FIFA presidential election.

In a news conference in Seoul on Thursday, Chung said that the AFC has been sending letters to officials of member federations urging them to vote for the Frenchman on Feb. 26.

''It is an obvious case of election fraud infringing on the basic rights of other presidential candidates,'' said Chung, who had forwarded copies of the letters to the chairmen of FIFA's electoral committee and ethics committee.

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The letter revealed by Chung was titled ''Proposal and support of the candidature of Mr. MP for the office of FIFA President.''

It ended with a sentence that read: ''Finally, just for good order, we wish to confirm that the (INSERT NAME ASSOCIATION) is supporting only Mr. MP and, accordingly, we did not sign any other declaration of support for another candidate for the office of the FIFA President.''

The letters were addressed to FIFA's secretary general Jerome Valcke.

Chung argued that the initials ''MP'' referred to Platini and that the letter was designed as a form for federations to fill out to express their support for Platini. He said the letter was sent to the offices of all AFC member states except for South Korea and Jordan, the home countries of rival candidates Chung and Prince Ali bin Hussein.

There was no immediate response by the AFC to Chung's accusations. A spokeswoman said the confederation was assessing his comments.

The upcoming election will replace current chief Sepp Blatter, who announced his departure amid mounting pressure to reform after widespread allegations of corruption within FIFA ranks.

Chung, the billionaire scion of the Hyundai business group, was a FIFA vice president for 17 years and was once considered a candidate to succeed Blatter before losing his seat in 2011. He 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.