Rooney Awaits Euro 2012 Match Ban Ruling

Ian Dovaston, sports news correspondent
FA Defends 'Double Standards' Claims

A high-powered, four-man legal team - including a QC who specialises in sport - has headed to Switzerland to fight the three-match ban that threatens to ruin Wayne Rooney and England's Euro 2012 campaign.

Sky News understands the Football Association (FA) will rely on one internal and three external lawyers to put forward its case at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.

It is understood Rooney will play a full part in the hearing - perhaps speaking to the panel himself - after travelling around 100 miles from Manchester United's Champions League meeting in Basel to the shores of Lake Geneva.

The legal team includes a Swiss sports lawyer as well as Adam Lewis QC and the FA's in-house lawyer James Bonington.

Mr Lewis is a leading expert on sports law who has represented Fifa, UEFA and the Premier League, as well as numerous top-flight clubs and players such as Andy Carroll .

Rooney was handed the ban in October after being judged to have assaulted Montenegro defender Miodrag Dzudovic during England's 2-2 draw in Podgorica.

The 26-year-old striker - seen as vital to England's hopes at Euro 2012 - was sent off, and UEFA later stuck rigidly to its disciplinary code in doling out a three-match ban.

It has been suggested that the thrust of the FA's case is proportionality - in other words, that Rooney's ban disqualifies him from three of only a potential six games at Euro 2012.

Some have compared that to being suspended from 19 of 38 Premier League games for one offence - though it remains to be seen if UEFA's appeals panel sees the Euro 2012 finals next summer in isolation from its qualifying competition.

England manager Fabio Capello is taking the appeal hearing seriously and has met with the FA's legal team twice to prepare his position.

Rooney is expected to work with the lawyers beforehand, having already submitted a statement with the support of his club and its chief executive David Gill.

The FA's hope is that the three-man committee hearing Rooney's appeal - made up of Swiss chairman Michel Wuilleret alongside Dr Levent Bicakci, of Turkey, and Ivaylo Ivko, of Bulgaria - will rule soon, perhaps reducing Rooney's suspension such that he may be allowed to play in England's final Euro 2012 group game against co-hosts Ukraine in Donetsk on June 18.

The group draw for Euro 2012 was made last Friday, pairing England with France in Donetsk on June 11 and Sweden in Kiev on June 15 before the meeting with Ukraine.

The FA says there is now no possibility that Rooney's ban can be increased since its decision to challenge the original ruling has not been met with a cross appeal from UEFA.

The FA is mindful that domestically it is involved in dishing out penalties, but feels strongly on this issue that it must fulfil the role of backing its manager and player just as a club would.

The hearing is scheduled to begin at 8.30am UK time.