By Andrew Warshaw

Mohamed Bin Hammam President of the Asian Football Confederation AFCDecember 7 - Twenty four hours before it was due to expire, the latest 45-day suspension of former FIFA vice-president Mohamed Bin Hammam, who has been out of football for 18 months, was again extended today but left open-ended after FIFA-appointed prosecutors completed their investigation into alleged malpractice by the once most powerful figure in Asian football.

In a statement, FIFA said Bin Hammam remained on the sidelines ''given the seriousness of the violations'' he allegedly committed.

With painstaking detail, Michael Garcia, head of the investigative half of FIFA's Ethics Committee, has been looking into allegations that Bin Hammam seriously mismanaged Asian Football Confederation (AFC) accounts during the nine years he was President.

Garcia has also been seeking fresh evidence that Bin Hammam - a member of FIFA's Executive Committee for 15 years - bribed Caribbean voters during his election challenge to FIFA President Sepp Blatter last year.

Bin Hammam's life ban for that alleged bribery was lifted by Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in July but the ruling did not pronounce him innocent and made it clear that a further inquiry was permissible if new evidence was produced.

That inquiry has been headed by Garcia and FIFA said copies of the United States lawyer's final report had been sent both to Bin Hammam and to German judge Joachim Eckert, who leads the adjudicatory side of FIFA's Ethics Committee.

Michael Garcia head of the investigative half of FIFAs ethics committeeMichael Garcia has been seeking fresh evidence into the Bin Hammam allegations

In what on the surface could be interpreted by Bin Hammam's supporters as yet another stalling tactic, Eckert has asked the 63-year-old Qatari, who has consistently denied all claims of wrongdoing, to respond within 45 days.

According to FIFA, Garcia stated that the request to keep Bin Hammam banned "was not based on the necessity to protect an ongoing investigation" but was necessary since an early judgement was unlikely "given the extraordinarily complex nature and the considerable scope of the present case."

The FIFA statement added: "Garcia said in his letter to the chairman of the adjudicatory chamber that it was imperative that Bin Hammam remained banned from football during the pendency of any decision on these charges."

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