Wayne Rooney’s ban has been reduced to two games on appeal, with the third game suspended for four years.
UEFA’s Disciplinary and Control Body handed Rooney a three-match ban after his petulant kick at Montenegro’s Miodrag Dzudovic in England’s final Euro 2012 qualifier in October. England had appealed against the severity of the ban.
With no more competitive games for England before next summer’s finals in Ukraine and Poland, Rooney would have missed the group stage of the tournament. Now he will miss the opening games against France and Sweden and will be available for the final group game against Ukraine in Donetsk.
The third game of the suspension will still kick in if Rooney is guilty of violent conduct in the next four years. He will also undertake football in the community work as part of the ban reduction.
UEFA said in a statement: “The UEFA Appeals Body has reduced a suspension imposed on England striker Wayne Rooney at a hearing in Nyon.
“The Appeals Body today decided that the player’s red card during the UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier in Montenegro on Friday 7 October should incur a two-match suspension, with a further one-game ban for UEFA European Championship football only suspended for four years, instead of the three-match ban handed down by UEFA’s Control and Disciplinary Body on 13 October.
“Rooney, who will also spend a day supporting a UEFA project as part of the sentence, was sent off in the 74th minute of the 2-2 Group G draw in Podgorica. He will be banned for England’s opening two UEFA EURO 2012 matches against France and Sweden but will be eligible for the final Group D fixture against Ukraine.”
The third game of the suspension will only be activated if Rooney is sent off for violent conduct in a European Championships match over the next four years. That will only encompass next summer’s finals and qualifying for Euro 2016.
Club England managing director Adrian Bevington told reporters in Nyon: “It is a positive outcome, Wayne and Fabio are both very pleased. Wayne will now head back to Manchester, they are both very satisfied that they have had a fair hearing.
“Wayne always made it clear he accepted it was a red card offence and we are very pleased with the outcome. We arrived with the possibility of Wayne Rooney missing the entire group phase so to have him available for the final group game against Ukraine is a positive result for us and Wayne Rooney as well.”
UEFA originally deemed Rooney’s challenge an assault, and the rules state that carries a “suspension for three competition matches or for a specified period for assaulting another player or other person present at the match”.
The Football Association is thought to have used Andrei Arshavin’s two-match ban for an almost identical offence in Russia’s last qualifier for Euro 2008 as part of its evidence. It also also argued that Rooney’s offence was not comparable to that of Maccabi Tel-Aviv’s Yoav Ziv, who was given a three-match ban for kicking his boot at a linesman against Stoke City in the Europa League.
The FA is also thought to have pointed out that a three-match ban that affects games in the finals of a major tournament is a harsher sanction than a suspension of a similar length which would just affect matches in a qualifying tournament.
The Manchester United striker was joined by England coach Fabio Capello and four lawyers as part of an attempt to reduce his punishment.
The team included Adam Lewis QC, who has previous experience of chairing Rugby Football Union appeal hearings, a Swiss sports lawyer, plus the FA’s own internal solicitor James Bonnington and a representative from their external lawyers Charles Russell.