Two years ago, over an hour in to the game, Manchester United were trailing 2-0 against West Ham. It was the beginning of April and United had a title to win. Wayne Rooney was having a frustrating game and nothing was working for him… until the 65th minute. He scored a 14 minute hattrick to put United 3-2 up before Javier Hernandez scored our fourth.
When celebrating his third goal, the Sky Sports camera ran on to the pitch and got in Rooney’s face, and he responded by shouting “What? Fucking what?”.
Immediately after the game Rooney apologised for his behaviour but the FA still charged him with using “offensive, insulting and/or abusive language” and banned him for two games. On the same day, Pepe Reina was guilty of using “offensive, insulting and/or abusive language” when arguing with referee Martin Atkinson for booking him, shouting “No fucking way!” at the ref. There was no second yellow for Reina, no straight red card, and certainly no ban.
Obviously the Laws of the game don’t take in to account where the offensive language is used, whether to the referee, to an opposition player or to a camera, but they set a precedent for banning Rooney for two games. Unsurprisingly, despite countless other examples of players using offensive language, not a single player has faced a two match ban.
Sir Alex Ferguson has criticised the FA and suggested that Rooney is naive to keep doing their promotional work for them with the England national team, when they’ve done nothing for him.
“I keep telling him he’s too trusting,” said Ferguson. “I told him: ‘I don’t know why you do it with the FA.’ He does things every time he goes down there [with England]. He should not be doing anything with them. They’ve not helped him one bit. Every time he does anything [commits an on-field offence] they punish him more than anyone in the game. He should be realising that. He shouldn’t have to do anything for the FA. They force him to do it.”