In a turn of events, Mamelodi Sundowns owner Patrice Motsepe has been cleared by Fifa to run for CAF presidency.
This move has technically removed doubts over the candidature of the mining mogul after CAF cast a shadow over his ambition to become its next president.
The governance committee of the continental football governing body initially ordered Motsepe to undergo further integrity checks before his name could be added to the final candidates’ list.
Motsepe turns 59 on Thursday, the same day he was due to appear before a CAF hearing that was due to decide his fate in the presidential race.
He is one of four candidates vying to succeed Madagascan Ahmad Ahmad at the CAF elective conference in Rabat, Morocco, in March.
The other contenders for the top post are Senegalese Football Federation president Augustin Senghor (55), Ivorian Football Federation honorary president Jacques Anouma (69) and head of Mauritanian football Ahmed Yahya (44).
Like Motsepe, Yahya was also meant to have been subjected to further vetting by CAF.
However, in separate letters from the Fifa review committee issued on Tuesday, all four men were deemed eligible to contest the March 12 elections.
“In this regard, we kindly inform you that the review committee has declared you eligible for the position of CAF president and Fifa vice-president,” reads a line on the letters signed by Mukul Mudgal, chairperson of the Fifa review committee.
Initially, incumbent CAF president Ahmad was to stand for re-election, but he has since been declared ineligible after Fifa banned him from all football-related activities for five years for financial mismanagement.
It is not clear whether CAF will go ahead with the hearings on Thursday, but what is clear is that the pronouncement by Fifa effectively overrides the pending hearing.
Upon election, the CAF president automatically becomes a Fifa vice-president.
The world football governing body carries out its own verification checks on candidates who vie for positions in the Fifa executive.
Interestingly, the CAF governance committee initially confirmed that Senghor and Anouma – both from the Francophone zone – were “authorised to appear on the list of candidates for the presidency”.
This raised eyebrows when Motsepe and Yahya were told to wait despite CAF confirming that both men’s “candidatures were deemed admissible”.
When contacted, Safa, through its communications department, said it would call a media conference this week.
Despite CAF’s governance committee casting a shadow over his ambitions, Motsepe has criss-crossed the continent canvassing support ahead of the elections. He has already been to Egypt, Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo and Guinea.
Meanwhile, Fifa has confirmed that acting CAF president Constant Omari Selemani is ineligible to stand for elections “because of an ongoing formal investigation by the Fifa ethics committee”, as is Algeria’s Khireddine Zetchi because he failed to report sanctions imposed by CAF and the Professional Football League of Algeria.