By Peter Rutherford
SEOUL (Reuters) - FIFA presidential candidate Chung Mong-joon said on Wednesday that payments he made to Haiti and Pakistan in 2010 were "charitable donations" and any attempt to use them as part of a reported ethics investigation was "cynical and unethical".
Responding to media reports that world soccer's governing body was investigating the South Korean billionaire over the 'disaster relief' funds, Chung said in a statement he had been donating money to causes at home and abroad since the 1990s.
"Recent media reports allege that FIFA has started an investigation into FIFA Honorary Vice President Dr. Chung Mong-Joon’s 2010 donations to disaster relief funds to Haiti and Pakistan," said the statement.
"If these reports are true, we condemn this as a cynical and unethical effort by FIFA to misrepresent even charitable donations for political manipulation."
Chung is in the running to replace Sepp Blatter as president of the scandal-hit governing body.
FIFA will hold an elective congress on Feb. 26 to decide on the replacement for Blatter, who is standing down following the organization's corruption scandals.
(Reporting by Peter Rutherford; Editing by Ian Geoghegan)