- Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) overturn Mohamed bin Hammam's FIFA ban
- The Qatari was banned from FIFA for life on bribery charges last year
- CAS outlined how overturning the ban was not a declaration of Bin Hammam's innocence
- Bin Hammam was suspended by the Asian Football Conderation earlier this week
The lifetime ban imposed by global governing body FIFA on the former head of Asian football has been annulled.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld Mohamed bin Hammam's appeal against the punishment handed to him after being found guilty of bribery by FIFA's ethics committee in July 2011.
The Qatari was accused of issuing bribes to members of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU), including former North American soccer head Jack Warner, in exchanges for votes during his ill-fated FIFA presidential campaign against current chief Sepp Blatter.
The CAS decision to lift the sanction imposed on Bin Hammam was based on a lack of evidence, though the body stressed the 63-year-old had not been found innocent.
"This conclusion should not be taken to diminish the significance of its finding that it is more likely than not that Mr. Bin Hammam was the source of the monies that were brought into Trinidad and Tobago and eventually distributed at the meeting by Mr Warner," said the CAS statement.
"His conduct, in collaboration with and most likely induced by Mr Warner, may not have complied with the highest ethical standards that should govern the world of football and other sports.
"The panel is doing no more than concluding that the evidence is insufficient in that it does not permit the majority of the panel to reach the standard of comfortable satisfaction in relation to the matters on which the Appellant was charged.
"It is a situation of 'case not proven', coupled with concern on the part of the panel that the FIFA investigation was not complete or comprehensive enough to fill the gaps in the record."
The CAS verdict was greeted with unease by FIFA.
"FIFA has noted with concern the decision announced today by CAS in the Mohamed Bin Hammam case," read a statement from the Zurich-based body, which recently appointed two crimefighters as part of ongoing reforms aimed at improving the organization's governance.
Former United States attorney Michael J Garcia and German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert have been put in place to tackle the allegations of wrongdoing which have plagued FIFA in recent years.
"The CAS panel notes that 'FIFA was in the process of reforming its ethics committee and that, in the event new evidence relating to the present case was discovered, it would be possible to re-open the case, in order to complete the factual background properly and to establish if Mr Bin Hammam has committed any violation of the FIFA Code of Ethics,'" added FIFA's statement.
Earlier this week, Bin Hammam was provisionally suspended by the Asian Football Confederation, the organization of which he was president between 2002 and 2011, following an audit of the body's accounts.
The suspension related to payments in and out of AFC bank accounts during Bin Hammam's tenure.