The Court of Arbitration Sport (CAS) has upheld a football ban for Ghana defender Jonathan Mensah following his transfer from Udinese.
Udinese claimed Mensah's transfer to French side Evian in 2011 was illegal as he was still under contract with the Italian club, despite claiming to be a free agent.
The four-month ban started on 30 April 2015 but football's world governing body Fifa has clarified how it will work in a statement to the BBC.
"The sanction is suspended from the final day of the season where he is currently playing club football and begins again at the start of the next season, whichever country he may choose to play in," wrote Fifa.
"He can play for Ghana in World Cup qualifiers and any other matches that are not a final competition of an international tournament."
It means Mensah will miss the start of next season but crucially for Ghana, he will be able to play in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Mauritius, scheduled for Accra on 14 June.
The original sanction was issued by Fifa's Dispute Resolution Chamber in July last year but action was delayed as the case was taken to CAS.
He will serve the final three months of the ban from the official start of his next club's new season.
"Mensah received a four-month ban in the Fifa decision," sport's highest legal body said in a statement on Monday.
"Such decision was stayed during the arbitration procedure at CAS."
CAS added that "the sporting sanctions that were imposed on Evian Thonon Gaillard FC are suspended and [have been] referred back to [Fifa's] Dispute Resolution Chamber."
Mensah's ban comes as a double blow for the player, after Evian were relegated from the French top flight on Saturday.
The 24-year-old joined Udinese from Free State Stars in South Africa after impressing for Ghana during their 2009 World Youth Cup victory.
However, the centre-back - who played at both the 2010 and 2014 World Cups - struggled to get into the Italian team and spent time on loan at Spanish side Granada prior to signing for Evian.