South Korean FIFA presidential candidate Chung Mong-joon on Thursday accused the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) of breaking the soccer world governing body’s rules to favor rival candidate Michel Platini.

Chung said the AFC, whose president Sheikh Salman has publicly supported Platini, had sent “unsolicited” letters to almost every AFC member association except South Korea and Jordan,

Jordan’s Prince Ali bin Hussein is also in the race.

The form letter, to be filled in by the national football association, expresses support for the UEFA president Platini and is addressed to FIFA’s secretary-general, Chung said.

“It states that ‘We wish to confirm that (insert name of association) is supporting only Mr. MP and, accordingly, we did not sign any other declaration of support for another candidate for the office of FIFA president,'” Chung said.

In Africa, a senior Confederation of African Football (CAF) official circulated the same form letter to its member associations.

But CAF later took measures to rectify the situation, according to Chung.

Of the 209 members who can vote for the FIFA president, 46 are in the AFC and 54 in the CAF.

“It is clear that the fairness of the FIFA presidential election has been seriously compromised,” Chung said.

Such efforts seeking to influence each member association’s right to propose candidates directly violate FIFA statutes, he said.

Chung claimed Salman and Platini are taking advantage of their status as AFC and UEFA presidents respectively by seeking to influence the election process in breach of basic principles, Chung asserted.

On Aug 31, Chung’s side sent official letters to the FIFA ad-hoc electoral committee and the FIFA ethics committee, calling on them to investigate the case immediately and promptly institute remedies, he added.

Meanwhile, a 12-member committee set up by FIFA to draw up far-reaching reforms met for the first time in Bern on Wednesday.

Headed by Swiss lawyer Francois Carrard, the committee will first hear from Domenico Scala, who is chairman of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee..

Carrard, 77, was appointed on Aug 11 to lead the reform group after the corruption scandal erupted in May, when seven soccer officials were arrested at a Zurich hotel on the eve of a FIFA congress.

The seven were among 14 people facing charges in the US over more than $150 million in bribes for marketing and broadcasting contracts.

Swiss investigators are also looking into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter was re-elected for a fifth term at the Zurich congress but, under pressure from the arrests, he announced he would stand down in February when a new election for his post is held.

Blatter denies any wrong-doing and Carrard has gone on record as saying that there was not a shred of evidence against his fellow Swiss.

Carrard is due to present his reform proposals to a FIFA congress meeting on Feb 26, when Blatter will officially stand down.

Chung Mong-joon says the fairness of the FIFA presidential election has been seriously compromised.Kim Hongji / Reuters

(China Daily 09/04/2015 page23)