FIFA candidate Van Praag seeks support in South Korea
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — FIFA presidential candidate Michael van Praag has visited South Korea’s football leaders seeking support for his challenge to Sepp Blatter.
With the election taking place on May 29 in Zurich, van Praag is stepping up his campaign and, in an interview with The Korea Times newspaper, was critical of the way the sport’s international governing body was being run.
“I’m very annoyed about the way that FIFA is operating,” Van Praag was quoted as saying. “In my part of the world, and also many other parts of the world, people started to dislike FIFA ... That is what we need to change. And if Mr. Blatter stays for another four years, we will continue the exactly the same way.”
Van Praag, who promised immediate transparency if he is elected president, also questioned the decision to spend $27 million on a movie about FIFA, starring Hollywood star Tim Roth as Blatter.
“That is the money that belongs to the Korean, Chinese and Dutch football federation and everybody in the world,” he said. “I’m talking about if you divide $27 million by 209 member countries, that means every country contributes $129,000. That is the money that can be used for football development.”
Van Praag’s visit to Seoul comes days after tension was exposed at Asian Football Confederation meetings in Bahrain between the continental leadership, which supports Blatter, and Korea FA president Chung Mong-gyu, who was not allowed to address the congress before a vote to change election statutes.
“A big scandal,” said Van Praag, who attended the event. “A congress is there to be democratic and give everyone opportunities to speak about something. Of course if a member wishes to speak, you got to get on the floor. So it was very, very unpleasant and humiliating experience that (Chung) doesn’t deserve ... and it was very impolite.”
Blatter is widely expected to extend his 17-year tenure as FIFA president by winning the May 29 election. He currently has three opponents: Van Praag of the Netherlands, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan and former Portugal playmaker Luis Figo.