JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Long-time Confederation of African Football President Issa Hayatou says it will be his last term in charge of the continent's football body if he is re-elected — as expected — next month in Morocco.
The 66-year-old Cameroonian is currently the only candidate for CAF's presidential election in Marrakech in March after he brought about rule changes that only allow current or former members of his executive committee to stand against him.
Hayatou, who has been in charge of African football for more than 25 years, appears likely to win a final term unopposed.
"If I'm elected, this will be my last term," Hayatou said in comments from a meeting on Friday and posted on the African Cup of Nations website on Sunday.
Ivory Coast's Jacques Anouma, a member of FIFA's executive committee but not CAF's, wants to stand against Hayatou and is challenging the rule changes at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland. A decision is expected in the next few weeks.
Liberia's football federation already failed with an appeal to the court to prevent the rule changes, which blocked Hayatou's expected rivals from challenging him.
Hayatou, who is also a FIFA vice president and once challenged Sepp Blatter for the leadership of world football, made just one unrestricted appearance for the media at the African Cup of Nations in South Africa — when he declined to comment on criticism of the rule changes at a news conference.
Since then, Hayatou has not appeared at any of CAF's official briefings at the continent's showpiece tournament. He gave an interview to selected reporters in a small meeting in Johannesburg on Friday, when he apparently made his commitment that he would not stand again after this year's elections.
That meeting was "closed" to The Associated Press, CAF said in email correspondence last week and ahead of the meeting.
FIFA President Blatter said that the world football body couldn't and wouldn't intervene with CAF's election rule changes because continental confederations are not members of FIFA — only national associations.
Blatter attended the CAF rules vote in the Seychelles last September and endorsed the victory for Hayatou after CAF member nations voted 44-6 to restrict presidential candidates to past or present members of the body's ruling board.
"What is our intervention?" Blatter said on Sunday on CAF's rule changes. "This is a confederation and the confederation is not a member of FIFA, so we have nothing to intervene and nothing to say. I know now that the case is in CAS (the Court of Arbitration for Sport) in Lausanne and we will see what is the outcome."