SEOUL (AFP) - South Korean Fifa presidential candidate Chung Mong Joon on Thursday accused the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) of "election fraud" in backing rival candidate Michel Platini.
Chung said the AFC, whose president Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa has publicly supported Platini, had sent "unsolicited" letters to almost every AFC member association except for South Korea and Jordan, to win their support for Platini.
Jordan's Prince Ali bin Hussein is also in the race to succeed Sepp Blatter as the head of football's world governing body.
"It is an obvious case of election fraud infringing on the basic rights of other presidential candidates," Chung told reporters in Seoul.
He urged Fifa's Ad-hoc Electoral Committee to launch an immediate probe into those involved in the case, including Sheikh Salman and Platini, describing the latter as an "arrogant" man.
Platini is considered the front runner in the race for the Fifa presidency and has already secured public support from key national federations and regional confederations.
But Chung has said the Frenchman should not be a candidate because he was so close to Fifa's past system and a former close ally of outgoing leader Blatter, who has said he will stand down when the election is held on February 26.
Chung, a member of the family that owns the Hyundai conglomerate, claimed that Sheikh Salman and Platini were taking advantage of their status as AFC and Uefa presidents respectively by seeking to influence the election process.
As evidence, Chung presented the copies of a form letter, to be filled in by national football federations, expressing support for Platini and addressed to Fifa's secretary general.
It is titled "Proposal and support of the candidature of Mr. MP (Michel Platini) for the office of Fifa President."
It states: "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 he had received copies of the form letter and other information from various sources including his "acquaintances".
In Africa, a senior Confederation of African Football (CAF) official circulated the same form letters to its member associations, but the 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 said official letters were sent on August 31 to the AD-hoc Electoral Committee and the Fifa Ethics Committee, calling on them to investigate the case and promptly institute remedies.
The Fifa election campaign is already turning into a bitter affair with allegations of behind-the-scenes dirty tricks. Chung has vowed that if successful in the February election, he would serve just one term.