GENEVA (AP) — UEFA is coaching women and people from ethnic minorities to lead European football federations and help tackle the old-boy networks in control.
A first women's seminar with 24 students launched the training and mentoring programs this week at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.
"Diversity always produces the best results, of course," said course leader Karen Espelund, who joined the UEFA executive committee in 2011 after running the Norway Football Federation.
UEFA President Michel Platini challenged his 54 member federations at their congress in March to be less dominated by white men.
"When I look at us all gathered here today I would say that there is still a lot of work to do," Platini told delegates to UEFA's annual congress on March 27 in Astana, Kazakhstan.
No woman has ever been elected president of a European football body, and only Estonia and France currently have an appointed female chief executive.
"This course means it improves the skills of the individual women but there must also be structural changes in the leadership of its associations," Espelund told the Associated Press. "Football bodies are discussing their governance and this should be part of it."
FIFA has added three women to what is a 27-person executive committee in reforms ordered in 2011 by its president Sepp Blatter after scandals implicated his all-male board.
Still, Espelund believes UEFA's program students can be promoted on merit rather than quota.