By John Duerden

MANAMA, Bahrain ?Chung Mong-gyu, president of the Korea Football Association (KFA), has failed in his bid to be elected to FIFA’s Executive Committee.

At the Asian Football Confederation’s Congress in Bahrain’s capital, Manama, Thursday, Chung, 52, was tied for third in a four-way vote for two seats on the powerful body. The two winners, who will serve Asian interests on the global platform for the next four years, were Kohzo Tashima of Japan and Malaysia’s Tengku Abdullah. They received 38 and 25 votes, respectively, while Chung and Thailand’s Worawi Makudi managed 13 each.

It was an attempt to restore Korean representation on the 25-member committee for the first time since 2011 when the KFA president’s cousin, Chung Mong-joon, former FIFA vice president, lost his place to Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan, ironically one of Korea’s biggest supporters in the election campaign this time around.

The younger Chung was at the center of controversy. While two seats with four-year tenure were contested by four candidates, there was another ExCo place up for grabs, which only came with a two-year term and another election in 2017.

All three seats were originally to be part of the same vote. But minutes before the ballot, Guam proposed an amendment that would split the vote into two contests, one for the four-year seats and one for the two-year seat.

Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah of Kuwait chased the shorter-term seat. The president of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) is a hugely influential figure in sport around the world and especially in Asia He wants the two-year term, most assume, so he can be elected again and be in a prime position to challenge for the FIFA presidency in 2019.

As the vote for the amendment started with a sea of “yes” cards held high, Korea was one of the few to say no and the only one to do so loudly, demanding to make a statement. The KFA was unhappy with the absence of debate about changing the rules just before the election.

Chung approached the front seat of the congress, spoke to AFC president Sheikh Salman Ibrahim Al-Khalifa and was told by the Bahraini prince and a close Sheikh Ahmad ally that there would be no debate and that everyone had to abide by the agenda and rules.

Then Sheikh Ahmad’s influence was there for all to see. Firstly, the motion to pass the amendment was carried 37-3. Then, all candidates decided to withdraw from the election for the two year-seat, leaving Sheikh Ahmad to win unopposed.

Even before, Korea knew it was fighting a losing battle. Sheikh Ahmad was supporting Tashima, long-respected in Asian football, and Abdullah behind the scenes, leaving Korea struggling to compete. Regardless of such support, it would be tough for Chung, with just two years in charge of the KFA, to defeat such experienced figures in Asian soccer Thirteen votes was a good effort.

Chung told The Korea Times that there was always time to try again and that it had been a good experience. The lesson learned for now is, perhaps, do not go head to head with a certain Kuwaiti.

SOURCE: The Korea Times