FIFA hands Ghana defender Jonathan Mensah 4-month ban

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Ghana defender Jonathan Mensah has been banned for four months by FIFA in a breach-of-contract case.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said its appeal panel upheld Mensah's suspension imposed by FIFA last July in a case dating to 2011. He is also liable for compensation to former club Udinese.

However, FIFA said Tuesday that Mensah -- who played at the past two World Cup tournaments -- is eligible to play for Ghana next month. It hosts Mauritius in the opening match of a 2017 African Nations Cup qualifying group.

FIFA judged that Mensah was still contracted to Udinese when he joined French club Evian Thonon Gaillard four years ago claiming to be a free agent.

Under FIFA rules, Mensah will serve about one month of the ban until the French season ends. The sanction is not spent during the offseason and does not apply to national team friendlies or qualifiers.

Mensah will become a free agent and is unlikely to stay with Evian, which has been relegated from the top division.

He will serve the final three months of the ban from the official start of his next club's new season.

The 24-year-old Mensah played in all three Ghana matches in Brazil last June, including a 2-1 loss to the United States. He was a member of the Under-20 World Cup-winning team in 2009.

CAS said the case has not ended for Evian, which FIFA could order to compensate Udinese and ban from signing players.

"The sporting sanctions that were imposed on Evian Thonon Gaillard ... are suspended and referred back to the [FIFA] Dispute Resolution Chamber," the court said.