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Wayne Rooney: England Star Deserves 3-Match Euro 2012 Ban

Tony MabertContributor IOctober 13, 2011

SOFIA, BULGARIA - SEPTEMBER 02: Wayne Rooney looks on during the UEFA EURO 2012 group G qualifying match between Bulgaria and England at the Vasil Levski National Stadium on September 2, 2011 in Sofia, Bulgaria.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Wayne Rooney's suspension for the entire group stage of Euro 2012 is entirely warranted.

England's worst fears were confirmed on Thursday when UEFA hit him with a three-match ban for his red card against Montenegro six days previously. Despite the FA vowing to do "whatever it takes" to convince the control and disciplinary body not to hand Rooney the maximum suspension, that is exactly what happened. Quite what they thought they could actually do to affect UEFA's decision is anyone's guess.

The FA have three days to launch an appeal against the decision but that would indeed be unwise, as such action carries with it the very real possibility of the ban being lengthened for making a frivolous appeal.

For those of you not familiar with the European governing body's disciplinary regulations article 10e (and if not, why not?), it states that a player can be handed a "suspension for three competition matches or for a specified period for assaulting another player or other person present at the match."

While Rooney may not have made like Eric Cantona and launched a flying kick into the crowd at the Podgorica City Stadium, it is difficult to build a case against the charge of assaulting another player.

How else can you define the moment when—having tried to trap an aerial pass forward only to see it bounce off his boot and run loose—Rooney quite blatantly and petulantly kicked out at Miodrag Dzudovic's legs from behind, with the Montenegro player quite clearly between him and the ball?

His action was thoughtless and unsporting. 

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PODGORICA, MONTENEGRO - OCTOBER 07: Wayne Rooney of England is shown the red card after fouling Miodrag Dzudovic of Montenegro during the UEFA EURO 2012 group G qualifier match between Montenegro and England at the Gradski Stadium on October 7, 2011 in Po
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Referee Wolfgang Stark was the official who sent Rooney off in England's final qualifying match. He told reporters afterwards how he would put in his report that the forward did not show dissent at the decision and humbly took his leave from the field.

However, his conduct after the event is completely irrelevant; it was only correct for UEFA to ignore it. This is not to single Rooney out for extra-special condemnation, merely to point out that this is what should happen should any player do the same thing. 

Rooney may be one of European football's most exciting attacking players, and his lashing out may have been a subconscious reaction to his father being arrested just the day before for his alleged involvement in a betting scam, but that does not mean he should be treated any differently than anyone else committing the same offence.

Could you imagine Andres Iniesta, Mesut Ozil, Samir Nasri or even the infamously stroppy Cristiano Ronaldo reacting in such a reckless and costly manner? 

The oft-repeated defence that if you took that nasty streak out of his game then he would not be the same player has always been a tiresome cliche with no real basis. In the two-and-a-half years since his last red card, he has played the best football of his career, although that form was punctuated with a year-long injury, tabloid revelations and an extended contract wrangle.

It is perfectly conceivable that a player can be aggressive and competitive without resorting to pointlessly kicking opponents.

It is a shame for the tournament as a whole and England in particular that Rooney will miss the entire group stage, but it is another example of the rocky relationship the Manchester United striker and the European Championships have had.

LISBON, PORTUGAL - JUNE 24:  Wayne Rooney of England wipes his face as he lies on the floor injured before going off during the UEFA Euro 2004, Quarter Final match between Portugal and England at the Luz Stadium on June 24, 2004 in Lisbon, Portugal. (Phot
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

After bursting onto the international stage at Euro 2004, scoring four goals for England, Rooney's tournament ended about an hour-and-a-half before the rest of his team when a tussle with Portugal's Jorge Andrade resulted in him breaking his foot.

England went on lose their quarterfinal clash against the hosts on penalties.

Four years later, Rooney and co. were not even present in Austria and Switzerland, failing to qualify for the tournament at all under the ill-fated tenure of Steve McClaren. Next year, the 26-year-old may even miss out on playing in another European Championship altogether if England are eliminated in the group stage. 

Rooney may have given England a self-imposed handicap that is as unnecessary as it is crucial, but it is possible to unearth a few positives from the situation if you dig deep enough. 

For one thing, if England do make it through to the knockout phase, they will have a fully fit and rested Rooney to unleash on the high-calibre opposition they will likely meet in the later rounds. Also, if they are playing so well at that point that they will not even need to bring him back into the side, then chances are they will be doing well enough as it is. 

Perhaps the most important positive is that it will teach Rooney a vital lesson that will benefit him for the rest of his international career, or at least a painful refresher of the one he learned following his red card in the 2006 World Cup quarterfinal.

He will be 26 next summer, so he is likely to have at least two more major tournaments to make amends. 

His first of many upcoming tests in anger management will surely come on Merseyside this weekend.

If the prospect of his return to his hometown to face Liverpool on Saturday did not already have him singled out for an extra-special welcome from the fans at Anfield, then his latest aberration should do the trick. 

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