ZURICH (Reuters) - A Swiss-based court reduced a ban on Friday on a FIFA official who checked part of Qatar's bid to host the 2022 World Cup, clearing the way for his return to soccer this month.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said it had set aside a charge that Harold Mayne-Nicholls violated world soccer body FIFA's rules forbidding offering and accepting gifts and other benefits.
The Chilean official headed FIFA's panel deciding the venues for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
He was originally banned in July 2015 for seven years by FIFA's ethics committee, on charges of seeking personal favours from a group close to Qatar's successful bid for the 2022 contest.
In 2016, FIFA's appeals committee agreed to cut his ban to three years. The former Chilean soccer president then went to Lausanne-based CAS which agreed to cut the ban further to two years on Friday.
The Swiss panel upheld earlier rulings by FIFA's Ethics Committee that found him guilty of violating the organization's general rules governing conduct, loyalty and conflict of interest.
Mayne-Nicholls, who has declined comment on his case in the past, could not immediately be reached on Friday.
In his role as bid inspector, Mayne-Nicholls compiled a technical report after leading visits to all countries seeking to host the World Cup in 2018 and 2022.
England, Spain/Portugal, Netherlands/Belgium and Russia bid to stage the 2018 World Cup while the United States, Australia, Qatar, South Korea and Japan were the candidates for 2022.
His report questioned Qatar's suitability for the competition due to the small Gulf country's searing heat and logistical issues raised by hosting the tournament in a single city, the capital Doha.
Reporting by John Miller in Zurich and Brian Homewood in Bern; Editing by Andrew Heavens