Rooney 'gutted' by two-match ban
Wayne Rooney bears a clear sense of injustice after being told he must serve a two-match suspension for his four-letter outburst at West Ham on Saturday.
The Football Association confirmed the news this morning, meaning Rooney will sit out Saturday's Premier League encounter with Fulham at Old Trafford, plus the eagerly-anticipated FA Cup semi-final with Manchester City at Wembley on April 16.
And the 25-year-old, who scored the only goal in United's Champions League quarter-final triumph over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last night, is clearly not happen.
In a statement issued through his spokesman Ian Monk, Rooney said: "I am gutted to miss two matches, one of which is an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.
"I am not the first player to have sworn on TV and I won't be the last.
"Unlike others who have been caught swearing on camera, I apologised 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."
Rooney has been joined in his disappointment by United, whose manager Sir Alex Ferguson only needed to look back to the last Manchester derby in February, which the striker settled with a sensational overhead kick, for the impact he will be missing at Wembley.
"Manchester United is clearly very disappointed with the decision," said a statement issued by the Old Trafford outfit.
"The club put forward a very strong case to have the punishment reduced, which was unsuccessful.
"Wayne apologised immediately after the match and the club now wishes to move to on to what hopefully will be a very exciting conclusion to the season."
The FA opted not to release the outcome of yesterday's disciplinary hearing immediately following a request by United, who did not wish to suffer any disruption to their preparation for last night's Chelsea clash.
However, the delay merely brought bad news.
"A Regulatory Commission has suspended Manchester United's Wayne Rooney for two matches," read a statement issued by the FA this morning.
"Rooney had admitted a charge for the use of offensive, insulting and/or abusive language, but claimed that the automatic penalty of two games was clearly excessive. "The Commission did not accept the claim and Rooney will begin the standard two-match suspension with immediate effect.
"The charge relates to an incident during his side's fixture with West Ham United at the Boleyn Ground on Saturday 2 April 2011."
If there is any consolation for United, it is that the two-match suspension was not increased, as the disciplinary panel had the power to do.
It means Rooney will be available for the trip to Newcastle on April 19, although he can also play in Tuesday's deciding second-leg against Carlo Ancelotti's men, when United look to book a semi-final meeting with either Inter Milan or, more probably, German challengers Schalke.
The FA will view it as a watershed moment for their hopes of improving player behaviour, whilst it is another blow to Rooney's image, even if sources close to the player have been anxious to distance confirmation of a sponsorship deal with Coca-Cola not being renewed last year with lurid allegations about his private life.
And United team-mate Rio Ferdinand has also rallied to Rooney's cause, insisting it is now time to call off the "lynching" of his friend.
"We should follow him as a footballer rather than keep lynching him for a lot of the stuff that goes on," he said.
"I wouldn't say he is innocent in a lot of the stuff that has happened but sometimes because of the player he is and who he is the reaction can be over the top.
"Wayne Rooney swearing on TV, as much as I don't condone it, is not front page news.
"There are bigger things going on in the world. There are things happening in Libya and Ivory Coast and we are talking about Wayne Rooney on the front page of newspapers because he swore at a camera.
"I don't condone it but because it is him everyone goes over the top.
"I don't feel sorry for him. He thrives off the attention.
"But he thrives off football attention rather than the stuff on the outside.
"He loves playing football. That's what he wants to be judged on and talked about."