New KFA head to be elected Monday
By Jung Min-ho
The Korea Football Association (KFA) will select its new chairman Monday, with ex-K League Commissioner Chung Mong-gyu and entrepreneur Heo Seung-pyo considered the top contenders.
The other two candidates are former head of the Korea Middle School Football Association Kim Seok-han and ruling Saenuri Party two-term lawmaker Yoon Sang-hyun. Since they have little football administration experience and support, their chance of winning seems slim.
The decision is in the hands of 24 delegates, consisting of the 16 heads of municipal and provincial football governing organizations and eight presidents of KFA-affiliated football federations.
Chung, 50, wants football as an industry to grow and pledged to raise the KFA’s annual budget to 300 billion won at a press conference on Jan. 7. “There are few things that I was unable to change as K League commissioner, the way to negotiate fees for the broadcasting of matches being one of them. I will rectify them, if elected,” he said.
His leadership was tested when a massive match-fixing scandal rocked the K League in 2011. The affair seriously blighted the league’s reputation. But Chung’s prompt response led to over 80 active and former players and brokers being indicted with about 50 footballers banned from the sport for life. His vows to root out the problem helped restore trust in the local game.
He also adopted the league’s first promotion-relegation system, which will start this year, supported by many football fans. However, others express discontent over one family ruling the organization, referring to the fact that Chung is a cousin of former KFA Chairman Chung Mong-joon.
Heo, chairman of telecommunications equipment manufacturer Peopleworks, is considered as the only candidate that could challenge the heavy favorite Chung.
This is his third bid to become chairman, after failing to be chosen in 1997 and 2009. The 66-year-old is also a director for the Korea Football Institute.
Heo has pledged to increase the registration of players at the Korea Football Institute from the current 36,709 to 200,000 by 2016, noting the number is the key for boosting the sport’s popularity and therefore the annual budget at a media conference on Jan. 9.
Heo also promised to bring more transparency to the KFA by creating an independent consulting institution, noting the nepotism is pervasive in the sport.
“If I become KFA chairman, I will hire people solely based on their ability,” Heo said. “The KFA chairman shouldn’t be an authoritative figure anymore. Rather, he has to serve the fans.”
The role is regarded as the most influential position in sports administration. In addition to a typical annual budget around 100 billion won ($93.5 million), the nation’s largest conglomerates such as Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor and KT are official sponsors of the KFA.
The winning candidate must receive more than 13 votes. Should no one win a majority, the top two candidates will compete again.