Thursday, 8 December 2011

Wayne Rooney wins Uefa appeal in boost to England's Euro 2012 hopes


Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney and the England manager, Fabio Capello, listen during the striker's appeal hearing at Uefa's headquarters in Nyon. 

Wayne Rooney has been cleared to play in England's final group game at next summer's European Championships amid confusion at the Football Association over the extent of his punishment by Uefa.
England's Euro 2012 prospects received a significant lift this morning when a three-man disciplinary panel reduced Rooney's ban from three to two matches for kicking the Montenegro defender Miodrag Dzudovic during October's qualifier in Podgorica. The third game, however, was suspended for four years, not removed, and will be enforced should Rooney be dismissed during an official Uefa game in that period.
Adrian Bevington, managing director of Club England, initially announced that the suspended third game applied to all Uefa matches and Rooney could therefore miss England's entire group campaign against France, Sweden and Ukraine should he collect another red card for violent conduct during Manchester United's Europa League campaign. Almost two hours later, however, and unbeknown to the FA, Uefa stated the suspension applied to official England matches only. The bottom line is that Rooney will miss the opening two matches of Euro 2012 against France and Sweden and is eligible to face the co-hosts Ukraine in Donetsk on 19 June. "It is for Uefa competition, national team matches only," a Uefa spokesman confirmed.
Rooney, Fabio Capello and the FA entourage all departed Uefa's headquarters in Nyon unaware the private hearing had ended so favourably. The England striker said the hearing "went fine" as he was ushered into a waiting car along with the England manager and agent Paul Stretford. Moments later Bevington explained: "It [the third-match suspension] relates to any further red card offences of violent conduct and also covers any received while playing for his club in European games, but the actual penalty would only apply to the international team.
"The commission were very complimentary to Wayne for coming here and giving his evidence personally. It has been made very clear to Wayne that the suspended period of the third card is four years. He has been very mature and rational in the way he answered everything said to him by today's panel. If he is dismissed for violent conduct while playing for United, the only team it will affect is England."
The FA's interpretation, it later transpired, was incorrect. As friendly matches fall under Fifa's jurisdiction, as of course do World Cup qualifiers, the only games in which the third-match suspension will hang over Rooney will come in the European Championship next summer and in the qualifying matches for Euro 2016 in France. The suspension is not restricted to violent conduct either. A red card for violent conduct will automatically trigger the third-game ban but a dismissal for two yellow cards would require Uefa's disciplinary panel to consider whether it is worthy of the additional suspension.
Irrespective of the confusion, the verdict represented excellent news for England and Rooney, although Bevington was unable to give the reasoning for Uefa's decision. He added: "Wayne has always made it clear that he accepted it was a red card offence. I don't want to go into specifics about the hearing because we have been asked by the panel to make clear it was a private hearing, so I cannot breach any confidence of what was said in the room, but we are very pleased with the outcome.
"Obviously we are very pleased with the outcome. We arrived here with the possibility of Wayne missing the whole group stage of the Euro 2012 campaign, which would have posed a huge challenge to Fabio and the team. So to have him available for the final game is a positive result for us and Wayne."
Rooney arrived at Uefa's headquarters shortly before 9am (Swiss time) with an England delegation including Capello and a four-strong team of lawyers. The legal team pointed to the fact that Dzudovic had asked Uefa to show leniency because Rooney had acted out of "desperation rather than anger", and had been "provoked by problems his family had to face a short time before the game". The three-man panel comprised the chairman, Michel Wuilleret from Switzerland, Dr Levent Bicakci from Turkey and Ivaylo Ivkov of Bulgaria.
Bevington admitted: "We have had a very fair hearing today. The three-match suspension originally levelled against Wayne has now seen the third game of that suspension suspended for four years, so Wayne will be available for the final group game of Euro 2012 against Ukraine. In effect, it is a two-game suspension with one carried over for a further four years for the national team.
"We are very pleased with that. Wayne's presence was clearly important and I'd like to make a special thanks to Manchester United – to David Gill and Sir Alex Ferguson – for releasing Wayne to be present. I would also like to pay tribute to Adam Lewis QC who led our case, Antonio Rigozzi, John Ellis and James Bonnington.
"Wayne has also agreed to support one day of a Uefa programme during a forthcoming period and we would expect him to do so on national duty so that there is no impact on his United time. We are very grateful for the time given by Uefa today. The commission considered everything, they listened to evidence from Wayne and Fabio Capello."

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