FA upholds 2-match ban for Rooney for swearing
LONDON (AP) -Wayne Rooney's joyous celebration after scoring for Manchester United in Champions League quarterfinals came too late to help convince the Football Association to reduce its tough sanction on the striker for swearing into a television camera.
Four days after an angry-looking Rooney stunned a worldwide audience by unleashing expletives directly at a camera during a Premier League match, the England forward playfully celebrated his goal in the 1-0 win at Chelsea on Wednesday by rolling around on the ground with a beaming grin on his face.
The FA refused to budge, however, announcing Thursday it was upholding the two-match ban handed to Rooney for insulting and abusive language at Upton Park on Saturday. The governing body made its decision Wednesday but agreed to delay the announcement at United's request so it didn't affect the team's preparations for the Chelsea game.
The striker had accepted the charge but appealed against the severity of the punishment, saying it was "clearly excessive.'' But with the appeal rejected, Rooney will be on the sidelines for United's FA Cup semifinal match against Manchester City at Wembley on April 16.
"I am not the first player to have sworn on TV and I won't be the last,'' said Rooney, who will also have to miss United's home match against Fulham in the Premier League on Saturday.
"Unlike others who have been caught swearing on camera, I apologized immediately. And yet I am the only person banned for swearing. That doesn't seem right. Whatever, I have to accept that what's happened has happened and move on from here. That is what I intend to do.''
United said the club is "clearly very disappointed'' with the decision.
Rooney's puzzling celebrations on Saturday, which came after he rolled in a penalty to complete a hat trick and United's reversal of a 2-0 deficit, appeared to depict a man angry with life and his detractors.
He is, however, arguably in his best form in 12 months. His goal Wednesday in the first leg of the quarterfinals at Stamford Bridge was his 10th in all competitions since the start of February.
The first half of the season saw Rooney beset with injuries and poor form, while he also had personal problems off the field, stemming from media allegations that he cheated on his then-pregnant wife with a prostitute.
The allegations led to him being dropped from Coca-Cola's advertising campaigns. The soft-drink giant has since permanently ended its relationship with the player.
"Coke Can Rooney,'' The Sun newspaper wrote in a front-page headline Thursday. The Daily Mirror, a rival tabloid, matched that with its "Hero ... To Coke Zero.''
The decision to act tough with one of the Premier League's biggest names, the so-called bad boy of English football, came on the heels of demands by the league that players follow the FA's Respect campaign.
Bad language is seen as being a part of football, especially in the English game. But the Professional Footballers' Association labeled the action against Rooney "unprecedented,'' because a player was being banned for swearing as opposed to simply being sanctioned on the field.
While United defender Rio Ferdinand believes the reaction to Rooney's rant has been disproportionate and that the media should stop "lynching'' him for his transgressions, a leading English police officer said the striker would have been thrown behind bars had he acted that way on a night out.
"If Rooney had behaved like that in Wolverhampton on Saturday night, I would have expected my officers to lock him up,'' Mark Payne, who works as a superintendent in the central England city of Wolverhampton, wrote in a blog on policing. "People in positions of influence have an obligation to behave like human beings. It is not a lot to ask.
"I have seen a thousand Rooneys, and I am sure most police officers will have. The same aggressive stance, the bulging eyes, the foul-mouthed rant, fists clenched, surrounded by his mates, all cheering him on.''
United will now be without Rooney when the team attempts to keep up its march to the Premier League title against Fulham at Old Trafford. The club leads Arsenal by seven points at the top of the Premier League, but the Gunners have a game in hand.
More galling for Rooney and the treble-chasing United is the player's absence from the match against City in the FA Cup semifinals.
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