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Accused FIFA President in S. Korea

May 22, 2002

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ Facing allegations of mismanagement, FIFA president Sepp Blatter arrived Thursday in South Korea ahead of the World Cup and next week’s election for the top job in soccer.

Blatter, who has denied the charges leveled at him by other executives at FIFA, is seeking a second four-year term as president in the May 29 vote. Co-hosted by South Korea and Japan, the World Cup begins two days later.

The FIFA president arrived on a flight from Hong Kong.

Blatter’s opponent at the FIFA congress is African soccer chief Issa Hayatou, who says FIFA should operate like any another commercial entity and allow open access to the press, players and management.

Michael Zen-Ruffinen, the FIFA general secretary, has accused Blatter of a coverup concerning FIFA financial losses. On May 10, 11 of the 24 members of FIFA’s ruling executive committee _ including Hayatou _ filed a criminal complaint against Blatter with Swiss prosecutors

Blatter has said Zen-Ruffinen was being used by opponents in an attempt to undermine Blatter’s chances of being re-elected.

Blatter and Hayatou attended an Oceania Football Confederation conference in Tonga this week, and both agreed that the Oceania conference winner should be given direct access to the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Oceania is the only one of FIFA’s six continental confederations that isn’t eligible for at least one guaranteed place in the 32-team World Cup finals.

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