Former FIFA vice-president Chung Mong-joon is free to return to football again after the South Korean had his ethics ban from football cut short on appeal by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Saturday.
His five-year ban from the game over ethics violations in relation to South Korea’s unsuccessful bid to host the 2022 World Cup was reduced to fifteen months. His fine of 50,000 Swiss francs ($53,197.15) was annulled. The reduction has effectively terminated Chung's ban.
CAS stated that Chung’s “misconduct related to his lobbying activities was not minor considering his high and influential positions at FIFA.” But the Court also pointed out that it was “common for FIFA Executive Committee members to promote the bids presented by their national football associations”.
The Court was swayed by Chung’s “lack of any prior record of unethical behaviour, his public stance against corruption within FIFA, and the meritorious services he provided to FIFA and football over the years”.
CAS stressed that it had weighed FIFA’s “excessive and unjustified delays” which meant Chung “had to serve a longer suspension than the Panel finds to be warranted.”
Chung, the billionaire scion of South Korea’s Hyundai industrial conglomerate, had always maintained his innocence. He served FIFA as a vice-president from 1994 to 2011. In a statement, Chung was quick to react, describing “the past four years as a painful period in which my honour was violated.” He vowed to “do my part in helping FIFA regain the love and respect of football fans around the world. ”
In 2014, FIFA’s Ethics Committee opened an investigation into Chung, alleging that he had engaged in “vote trading.” He supposedly gave the “appearance of offering benefits” to the South Korean bid. Ultimately, the Ethics Committee dropped these allegations, but still banned the South Korean from the game with a five-year ban over Chung’s written offers of a global football fund to his colleagues in the Exco.
Chung can now make his return to the sport. CAS stated that he is “free to take part in any football related activity (administrative, sport or any other) at national and international level.”