CAIRO (AP) South African soccer head Danny Jordaan withdrew as a candidate for a place on the FIFA Council as the governing body was deciding which African officials passed eligibility tests and would be allowed to stand in elections next week.
Jordaan, the president of the South African Football Association and organizer of the 2010 World Cup, was withdrawn from the FIFA vote by his association, the Confederation of African Football said Tuesday in an internal memo sent to its member countries and obtained by The Associated Press.
Jordaan was one of three prospective candidates to back out of the FIFA Council race just before next week's votes in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The timing of Jordaan's withdrawal - around the time FIFA's governance committee was finalizing ethics checks - raised more speculation over any role he may have had in alleged bribery by South Africa to win the right to host the World Cup.
South African Football Association spokesman Dominic Chimhavi told the AP there was no issue with Jordaan and FIFA's ethics checks.
''He was eligible. Very eligible,'' Chimhavi said. ''He has nothing to answer for.''
Chimhavi said Jordaan's decision to back out of the FIFA election was rather a tactical one so he could concentrate on winning election to CAF's executive committee.
Zambia's Kalusha Bwalya had already announced he had withdrawn from contention for one of Africa's seven places on the FIFA Council. South Sudan Football Association president Chabur Goc Alei was also withdrawn by his country, CAF said in its memo.
Jordaan and Bwalya will still stand for places on CAF's executive committee.
Incumbent Issa Hayatou and rival Ahmad of Madagascar were both approved to stand for the CAF presidency on March 16, with the winner getting an automatic FIFA vice presidency and a place on the council.
Allegations of bribery against South Africa's World Cup bid were contained in the U.S. Department of Justice indictment into corruption among FIFA executives. That caused the 2015 scandal at the world soccer body and led to the downfall of many of its most senior officials, including then-president Sepp Blatter.
The indictment alleged that two senior South African bid officials were involved in bribing FIFA executives to vote for South Africa. One of the South African officials organized for $10 million to be shaved off the country's World Cup budget from FIFA and used to pay former FIFA vice president Jack Warner, who was later banned for life from soccer. The other South African bid official carried a suitcase of money to Paris to hand over to a member of Warner's family, the U.S. indictment alleged. The indictment didn't name the South Africans.
Jordaan - accused of being one of the two officials - has denied any involvement in wrongdoing and the South African government denied there was any bribery. It said the $10 million was sent to Warner for soccer projects.
Next week's CAF congress in Ethiopia could see a strong challenge to Hayatou, who has been in charge since 1988 and is seeking an eighth term as head of African soccer. His challenger, Ahmad, has claimed widespread support.
The other candidates approved to stand in the FIFA Council elections were: Constant Omari (Congo), Lydia Nsekera (Burundi), Kwesi Nyantakyi (Ghana), Leodegar Tenga (Tanzania), Almamy Camara (Guinea), Hany Abo Rida (Egypt), Tarek Bouchamaoui (Tunisia) and Agustin Diallo (Ivory Coast).
Ahmad, Tenga and Diallo are the candidates not currently on the FIFA Council.