|Chung Mong-gyu, chairman of the Hyundai Development Co., poses at a news conference after being elected the 52nd president of the Korea Football Association at Grand Hilton Seoul on Monday. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)|
Chung Mong-gyu, a business executive and a former head of South Korea’s top professional football league, was elected Monday to lead the nation’s football governing body.
Chung, a CEO of the construction firm Hyundai Development Co. who once headed the K League, beat out three rivals to become the new chairman of the Korea Football Association. Chung’s term will be for four years.
In the second round of voting, Chung garnered 15 votes from 24 KFA delegates ― 16 heads of municipal and provincial football governing bodies and eight heads of KFA-affiliated football federations.
Heo Seung-pyo, a former KFA vice chairman, managed nine votes.
The election went two rounds because none of the four candidates managed to win a majority. In the first round, Heo earned eight votes, followed by Chung’s seven.
Kim Seok-han, the former head of the Korea Middle School Football Association, had six votes, while Yoon Sang-hyun, a two-term lawmaker for the ruling Saenuri Party, earned only three.
The incumbent KFA chairman Cho Chung-yun will step down once his first term ends this month. In October last year, he declared he would not run for a second term, setting off a race for one of the country’s most coveted sports administration jobs.
Chung had previously been the commissioner of the K League, which governs South Korea’s professional football. He had been considered a frontrunner for the majority of the race, aided in large part by his family ties.
Chung reportedly had strong backing from his cousin Chung Mong-joon, a former KFA chairman and an ex-FIFA vice president, and also one of the most powerful figures in South Korean football.
Following his victory, Chung said he will work to achieve the “great integration” of the football community through “communication and harmony.”
“I will soon form a panel with football experts and fans, and we’ll discuss ideas on how to improve football in this country and how to resolve any outstanding issues at the KFA,” Chung said.
“I will also make football our national pastime, something that’s ingrained in our lives.”
Heo Seung-pyo has now come up short in three KFA elections.
He earlier lost to Chung Mong-joon for the top KFA job in 1997 and then to Cho Chung-yun in 2009.
The KFA is the largest sport governing body in South Korea. Its annual budget is typically around 100 billion won ($92.6 million), and its sponsors include some of the country’s largest corporations, such as Samsung Electronics, KT and Hyundai Motor.
It affords the KFA a degree of financial and administrative independence uncommon for a South Korean sport governing organization.
As the incoming chairman, Chung Mong-gyu will inherit an organization that found itself in hot water over questionable administrative decisions in 2012.
In February last year, the KFA became a subject of state auditing after paying an ex-employee a large settlement after he threatened to divulge corruption within the football body. That employee had been dismissed after allegedly trying to steal football equipment from the KFA.
Then following the London Olympics, Cho Chung-yun and other senior officials came under fire after the KFA sent an apologetic letter to its Japanese counterparts over a South Korean player’s celebration during the bronze-medal victory over Japan.
The KFA’s letter was criticized for being overly apologetic to the Japanese, and critics said the letter amounted to an admission that claiming Dokdo as South Korean territory was Park’s mistake. (Yonhap News)