Hull City winger George Boyd was handed a three-match suspension for spitting in the direction of Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart during Saturday's Premier League fixture.
The English Football Association announced the ban, which is slated to take place immediately. Video showed the incident taking place during the second half of the match despite it not being noticed by officials at the time:
The incident with Manchester City's Joe Hart, which was not seen by the match officials but caught on video, occurred in or around the 68th minute of the fixture between the two sides on Saturday 15 March 2014.
Boyd had denied the breach of FA Rule E1[a], but it was found proven at an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing today [Thursday 20 March 2014].
Whether Boyd meant to spit was a point of contention leading up to the decision by the FA. The players were engaged in an argument after an incident in the box where the striker went down in search of a penalty, which wasn't awarded.
During the confrontation, spit did fly out of the mouth of Boyd. Stuart Brennan of the Manchester Evening News watched the replay and said Hart did well to avoid further confrontation after the situation got taken to a heated level:
Hull manager Steve Bruce had a different view of the incident. Richard Gibson of The Guardian passed along comments from the boss, who said Boyd was simply trying to say something and the spit came out of his mouth accidentally as he spoke:
No, that's a load of rubbish. He's tried to talk and something has come out. That's what I've seen. George Boyd wouldn't do that, definitely wouldn't do that. No chance.
Clearly, the FA didn't agreement with that assessment of the situation and decided to impose the ban after the Independent Regulatory Commission said the charge was proven. Hart was not charged any further for his role in the dispute.
Boyd has appeared in 25 Premier League matches for the Tigers this season, serving as a valuable option off the bench for Bruce. His absence will be felt by the squad as it attempts to avoid a late cold spell that could put it in relegation danger.
Since the ban is three matches Boyd will miss clashes with West Bromwich Albion, West Ham United and Stoke City. All three clubs are in the same area of the table as Hull. He will then be available for selection again on April 5 against Swansea City.