Chung hints at FIFA presidency tilt

LONDON, Oct 7 (Reuters) - FIFA vice-president Chung Mong-joon of South Korea hinted on Thursday that he could stand against Sepp Blatter at next May's elections for the presidency of FIFA, world football's governing body.

Chung, 58, said in a keynote address at the Leaders In Football conference that it was "too early to say there would be no contender next May."

He added, "and as for the 2015 election, it is likely that there will be several candidates from South America, Asia and other Confederations as well."

Asked if he would stand, Chung, scion of the founder of South Korea's Hyundai industrial company and one of the more high profile of FIFA's eight vice-presidents, laughed and said:

"I had not thought of that, now you have asked me I will think about it."

Chung told delegates the destination of the World Cup tournaments of 2018 and 2022, to be decided by FIFA in December, could also have an impact on next year's presidential elections.

"Those decisions might affect the atmosphere of the presidential election next year," he said.

Mohamed Bin Hammam of Qatar, president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), confirmed he had no plans to stand against Blatter and would instead support him for re-election.

He added: "I have never mentioned myself as a candidadate for 2011, and am happy to support Mr Blatter, but there could well be an Asian candidate for 2011."

Chung was more expansive on the possibility of a challenge to the 74-year-old Blatter who has been president since 1998.

"I have made this general statement that in order to keep an organisation like FIFA healthy you need competition," he said.

Asked if a challenge would be a good thing, Chung replied: "You need challenge and competition at the summit of anything - FIFA, or the summit of a mountain. We need to keep FIFA healthy.

"The world football family has to encourage competition, there are good people among existing FIFA executive committee members.

"You must encourage competition, we could have a candidate from Asia or other confederations. We better try to find good competition and good candidates."

The only declared candidate for May's election at present is Blatter, who succeeded Joao Havelange as president in 1998 after being elected ahead of UEFA president Lennart Johansson.

The Swiss won the vote again in 2002 after beating off competition from Issa Hayatou, president of the African Confederation (CAF), and was re-elected by acclamation in 2007.