UN sports adviser says FIFA head should be non-European

GENEVA: U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon's sports adviser said on Wednesday he felt the successor of FIFA President Sepp Blatter, stepping down amid a graft scandal at world soccer's governing body, should come from outside Europe, and a woman "would be a fantastic thing".

FIFA announced on Monday it would form a task force to propose reforms aimed at cleaning itself up, a move critics said was an inadequate response to the worst crisis in its 111-year history. The organisation will appoint a new head in February to replace Blatter who denies any involvement in corruption.

Wilfried Lemke, Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, said reforms should include limiting the terms of top FIFA officials and changing the bidding process for World Cup host countries to ensure a balance of power between the continents; but most of all FIFA needed transparency.

"And from my personal point of view, it would be good if he (the new FIFA head) is not from Europe," he said. "Everyone must have the feeling that we stay altogether in a big, big organisation as FIFA."

Some national soccer federations complain of a historically entrenched European domination of world soccer governance.

For real change at FIFA, the successor of Blatter, a Swiss national, should be a woman, he said.

"Why not a woman, this would be a fantastic thing, to have the leader of the biggest sports federation as a woman? This would be very smart."