AND striker Wayne Rooney succeeded in persuading European chiefs to cut his Euro 2012 ban to two matches yesterday after agreeing to undertake a stint of community service.
Governing body Uefa reduced Rooney’s original three-match ban, handed out for his red card in October’s qualifier in Montenegro, freeing him to face Ukraine in England’s final group match at next summer’s tournament.
However, the third match of his ban has been suspended. It will be activated if he is sent off for violent conduct again during a competitive England game in European competition during the next four years.
And Uefa confirmed Rooney had also been asked to make amends by spending a day performing unpaid coaching work on one of its projects. A spokesperson told City A.M.: “It is one of the various measures that can be imposed and it has already been imposed in the past.”
Uefa cited Bayern Munich midfielder Mark van Bommel’s successful appeal against a two-match ban following a sending off against Real Madrid in 2007 as an example of when community service had been imposed previously.
Rooney travelled across Switzerland just hours after Manchester United’s shock Champions League elimination against Basel on Wednesday night for the hearing in Nyon, where he was joined by England manager Fabio Capello.
The 26-year-old had been set to miss the entire group stage, putting his place in Capello’s Euro 2012 squad in jeopardy, but will now miss only fixtures against France and Sweden before returning against the hosts.
It is a huge boost for England’s hopes and justifies the Football Association’s decision to take four lawyers to argue Rooney’s case at Uefa headquarters. The legal team included sports expert Adam Lewis QC, FA in-house solicitor James Bonnington and a representative from City law firm Charles Russell.
Miodrag Dzudovic, the Montenegro defender whom Rooney kicked to earn his red card, also sent a statement in support of the appeal. The FA’s team is thought to have argued that a three-game ban would make him miss at least three games of a tournament with a maximum of six matches, and was therefore a disproportionate punishment.
Adrian Bevington, managing director of the FA’s Club England division, called Uefa’s decision: “a positive outcome”. He added: “Wayne and Fabio are both very pleased. They are both very satisfied that they have had a fair hearing.”