MUMBAI (Reuters) - Former England defender Sol Campbell believes a retired player would be the ideal candidate to take charge of FIFA and lead a successful cleaning up operation at the corruption-tainted world governing body.
Charges of racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering are hanging over FIFA and outgoing president Sepp Blatter has seven months to instigate reforms in response to the worst crisis to hit the organisation in its 111-year history.
Blatter, who has not been accused of any wrongdoing, was re-elected for a fifth term but announced he would step down last month just days after his victory at the FIFA Congress in Zurich in the wake of a scandal that has engulfed the body since the arrest of several senior officials on the eve of the vote.
When asked if it was time for someone who has played the game at the highest level to succeed Blatter in February's presidential election, Campbell told Reuters that it was a logical course of action.
"There are lot of intelligent guys out there who have played football... it's just picking the right character," the former England and Arsenal skipper said in Mumbai, where he is attending the launch of his former club's new home and away kits.
"The right footballer with the right character, they are good team builders. They have been in pressure situations. They understand getting deals and getting deals over the line.
"They have played around the world, they have met a lot of people and they are used to talking to people with different backgrounds. That's what you want."
UEFA chief Michel Platini is regarded as one of the most gifted players of his generation and the former France captain is expected to garner strong support should he decide to run for the top job early next year.
The 40-year-old Campbell, who started his career at Arsenal's north London rivals Tottenham, felt the person replacing the 79-year-old Blatter should be comfortable in dealing with all the stakeholders of the game.
"Someone who can shake a hand of someone from the streets and shake a hand of a president or a queen," Campbell added.
"That's what you want in that position, people who have empathy for football and want to bring football back to where it should be."
Another issue needing to be tackled by the next FIFA president is racism in Russia after Brazil and Zenit St Petersburg forward Hulk was the latest player to claim he was the target of racial abuse by spectators in the country that will host the 2018 World Cup.
Campbell, born in east London to Jamaican parents, is himself no stranger to allegations of discrimination and claimed in his biography that he would have captained England more than the three times he led the side if he had been white.
However, the former central defender was confident Russia would work hard to resolve the issue.
"Russia will have to do a lot of work on that. Usually when you have competitions like that (World Cup) it kind of allows the country to focus and deal with their problems internally," added Campbell, who was capped 73 times by England.
"Hopefully, the government and the football association in Russia will start working together to kind of appease the players and take this out of the game.
"If it (racism) does happen, then it's a big problem but I think they should be fine."
(Editing by John O'Brien)