Capello key to Rooney ban reduction
A PLEA by Fabio Capello was instrumental in reducing the three-match ban that would have seen Wayne Rooney miss all of England's group games in the European Championship finals next year.
UEFA's appeals body reduced the sentence for his dismissal against Montenegro to two games, with the third suspended for four years.
That will allow Rooney to start England's third fixture against Ukraine in Donetsk.
Capello's testimony was said to be crucial in that decision. The panel was also impressed by Rooney's decision to remain in Switzerland to make a personal appearance at the hearing, which is said to be rare for a player facing a disciplinary charge, and by the fact that in more than 60 UEFA-sanctioned games, he had been sent off only once before -- against Villarreal in the Champions League in 2005.
The England manager admitted that Rooney was "paying for my mistake", arguing that he had been wrong to select him for England's final Euro 2012 qualifier in Montenegro in October.
The match came shortly after Rooney's father, Wayne senior, and his uncle, Richie, had been arrested after a police investigation into betting irregularities at a Scottish Premier League game between Hearts and Motherwell.
Rooney was with the England squad in Podgorica when the arrests were made and, publicly, Capello said the striker was "relaxed and calm" before the 2-2 draw in which he was dismissed for a witless tackle on Miodrag Dzudovic.
The FA's team, led by Adam Lewis, a leading sports lawyer, did not argue that the red card shown by referee Wolfgang Stark was wrong; instead, Capello addressed the three-man commission, arguing that Rooney should never have played because he was in no fit mental state to start.
Capello said it was clear from the kick-off that Rooney should not have been risked and that he had thought about bringing him off at half-time.
However, he changed his mind and then watched in horror as he lashed out at Dzudovic 17 minutes from the end. (© Independent News Service)