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(LEAD) S. Korean Chung Mong-joon fails to be re-elected as FIFA vice president

All Headlines 19:49 January 06, 2011

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout; CHANGES dateline; ADDS photo)

DOHA/SEOUL Jan. 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Chung Mong-joon came up short in his bid for re-election as FIFA vice president for a fifth run.

In a vote held in Doha Thursday during the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Congress, Chung lost 25-20 to Jordanian Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, head of the Jordan Football Association. Prince Ali, 35, will serve until 2015.

Chung, 59, had been the vice president of the world's governing body of football since 1994. Prince Ali is also the founding president of the West Asian Football Federation (WAFF), which includes the likes of Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar, Iran and Iraq.

A South Korean lawmaker and a scion of the conglomerate Hyundai Group, Chung helped bring South Korea its first FIFA World Cup in 2002, as a co-host with Japan. Hyundai is one of the major sponsors for FIFA.

"I did my best and I am disappointed that I didn't get the desired result," Chung was quoted as saying by the Korea Football Association (KFA). "From the beginning, I didn't think it was going to be an easy election. Islamic states were all united but even some of our close neighbors didn't support our side. I think it's important to build trust with those countries."

Earlier Thursday, Mohamed Bin Hammam of Qatar was re-elected as head of the AFC. He was the lone candidate for the position he has held for the past eight years.

Victories by Prince Ali and Bin Hammam give the Middle East the two most powerful football positions in Asia. Football in Middle East was also buoyed in December by Qatar's winning of the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, as the first Middle Eastern state to do so.

A solid Middle Eastern alliance appears to have been the difference. As the president of WAFF, Prince Ali had the backing of 13 member states. The powerful AFC President Hammam, a Qatari, may also have wielded influence in Prince Ali's campaign.

Bin Hammam was once at odds with Chung after the South Korean backed Bin Hammam's opponent in a 2009 election for a seat on the FIFA Executive Committee.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter also reportedly supported Prince Ali's bid. Blatter is facing a re-election on June 1 and Chung could have been his chief rival, even though Chung himself has denied he is running for the top FIFA position.

On Thursday, Chung also lost his seat on the FIFA's Executive Committee in the process, leaving South Korea with no executive member at the football's governing body.

At the AFC, South Korea has seven members across eight committees, such as the referees' committee and media committee, but none with much influence at the Asian football body. Former national team star Kim Joo-sung is with the competitions committee, one of the main bodies tasked with organizing and managing AFC events, but he is only a co-opted member, at the lowest rung of the ladder.

"As the FIFA vice president since 1994, Chung Mong-joon has been the face of South Korea's football diplomacy, but we haven't produced other officials to back him up at the AFC level," said Shin Moon-sun, a former football television analyst and now a professor at Myungji University in Seoul.

"We should have been sending more officials to key committees at the AFC so that we could strengthen our position in global football," Shin added. "If we don't do that in the future, then we could be placed at some unexpected disadvantage."

The AFC Congress was held on the eve of the quadrennial Asian Cup tournament, with 16 nations in action. South Korea is trying to win its first title since 1960.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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