A WWE event in Brazil came to a screeching halt Thursday evening ... when local law enforcement stopped a live match and threatened to arrest Chris Jericho for desecrating the Brazilian flag.
It all went down during a match between Jericho and C.M. Punk -- who was proudly waving the flag in the ring. Jericho took the flag away, crumpled it up and kicked the flag out of the ring ... and that's when police stepped in and put a stop to the event.
We're told Jericho was informed that desecrating the national flag is a crime in Brazil ... punishable by incarceration.
Cops gave Jericho an option -- apologize to the arena ... or go to jail. Chris chose the former ... grabbing the mic and telling the crowd he immediately regretted his actions. Cops allowed the event to continue.
Sources connected to the WWE tell TMZ ... the flag stunt was NOT planned or approved by WWE officials.
The WWE has just released an official statement saying, "Chris Jericho has been suspended indefinitely due to an irresponsible act of denigrating the Brazilian flag at a WWE event in Sao Paulo on May 24. The WWE has apologized to the citizens and the government of Brazil for this incident."
1:57 PM PDT -- The WWE has just amended its suspension of Jericho. Jericho is now suspended for 30 days.
6:34 AM PDT -- Jericho has tweeted about the incident ... saying, " Just for the record I love Brazil and wish we could've spent more time here. Beautiful country!"