Despite a United States Soccer Federation law stating that destruction of a referee's property is "assault", Clint Dempsey has escaped with only a three game ban. Major League Soccer decided on Friday, that Dempsey didn't deserve the full three month penalty an infraction like this would demand by law.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-cards="hidden" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">MLS suspends <a href="https://twitter.com/SoundersFC">@SoundersFC</a>' Clint Dempsey for three games following US Open Cup incident: <a href="http://t.co/BJbwX8MpOK">http://t.co/BJbwX8MpOK</a> <a href="http://t.co/paYovtL4c9">pic.twitter.com/paYovtL4c9</a></p>— Major League Soccer (@MLS) <a href="https://twitter.com/MLS/status/611972373546422272">June 19, 2015</a></blockquote>
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The length of the suspension means that Dempsey will be available to play in every 2015 Gold Cup game for the USMNT.
MLS Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott had this to say on the matter:
"We do not tolerate conduct of this nature from any of our players," Mark Abbott said in a statement. "No matter how passionate our players are or what happens in the ‘heat of the moment,' they must always respect all aspects of the game, especially the referees. In light of Clint's actions and our past precedents, we felt that a significant suspension was appropriate."
It remains to be seen why MLS failed to enforce the USSF law that many feared would keep him out of the Gold Cup. It's possible the league decided to categorize Dempsey's actions as "abuse" instead of "assault". Thankfully for Jurgen Klinsmann and U.S. Soccer they won't have to worry about missing their captain for the crucial CONCACAF tournament starting on July 7.
Dempsey is still subject to a longer ban, but that penalty would only be enforced in the U.S. Open Cup where the incident took place.