U.S. starting midfielder Michael Bradley has been suspended for four games by FIFA, soccer's governing body, for "committing acts of misconduct against opponents and match officials" in the U.S.'s 2-0 upset of Spain on June 24, a FIFA spokesman has confirmed to SI.com.
However, Bradley will be available for the U.S.'s important World Cup qualifier at Mexico on August 12, since he can serve his suspension during the current CONCACAF Gold Cup (even though Bradley isn't on the roster).
Bradley was sent off in the 87th minute against Spain by Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda for a tackle on Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso. The Spanish publication AS first reported that Bradley had allegedly confronted Larrionda in the tunnel after the game.
By the end of tonight's U.S. game against Honduras, Bradley--the son of U.S. coach Bob Bradley--will have already served his suspension by not being eligible to play in the Confederations Cup final against Brazil or in the U.S.'s first two Gold Cup games against Grenada and Honduras.
There is one wrinkle in FIFA's ruling: the fourth game of Bradley's ban is suspended, and Bradley will serve a probationary period of six months. "If the player commits another infringement during the probationary period in a FIFA competition," FIFA's statement reads, "the one match suspended suspension is automatically revoked and applied, in addition to the sanction pronounced for the new infringement."
FIFA did not release the details of Bradley's misconduct against match officials, including Larrionda, but it did say that he had breached articles 48 and 49 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code. Article 48 addresses misconduct against opponents (the original red-card offense), while article 49 references misconduct against match officials.
Article 49 requires a ban of "at least four matches for unsporting conduct toward a match official."
Other details in the AS report were not found to be true. The Spanish report (which cited no sources) claimed that Bradley had tried to "assault" or "attack" Larrionda, an allegation that was not supported by FIFA's investigation. If the "assault" charge had been true, FIFA would have been required to suspend Bradley for at least six months, according to article 49 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code.
What do you think of FIFA's suspension of Bradley? How much will the probationary wrinkle affect the way he plays on the field for the next six months?