© AP, Dec 08, 2011

Rooney Euro ban reduced to two matches

NYON, Switzerland(AP) Wayne Rooney was cleared to play in England's final group match at next year's European Championship after UEFA decided Thursday to reduce his three-match ban to two.

The UEFA appeals panel deferred the final match of the England striker's three-match suspension on condition of his good behavior for four years.

Rooney remains banned for England's games against France and Sweden, but he will be able to face Euro 2012 co-host Ukraine in Donetsk on June 19.

Rooney did not speak with reporters after leaving UEFA headquarters with England coach Fabio Capello, who helped present his case in a 90-minute session before a three-member appeals panel.

Capello smiled and nodded in agreement when asked if his star player's hearing had gone well.

''It's a very positive result,'' Club England managing director Adrian Bevington said. ''It would have been a huge challenge for Fabio and the team (to be without Rooney).''

UEFA said that Rooney's third suspended match will be activated only if he is sent off for violent conduct while playing for England in a European Championship match.

''Rooney will also spend a day supporting a UEFA project as part of the sentence,'' UEFA said in a statement.

Rooney, who wore a Manchester United blazer and tie, addressed the appeals body, which was chaired by Swiss official Michel Wuilleret.

''He has been very professional and mature in the way he answered everything that has been said to him by the UEFA panel,'' Bevington said.

UEFA banned Rooney for three matches after he was sent off for kicking Montenegro defender Miodrag Dzudovic in England's last qualifier in October.

Rooney's lawyers argued that the incident was an act of petulance rather than malice.

Rooney called on some of the same legal team used by Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador at his 2010 Tour de France doping hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport last month. London-based lawyer Adam Lewis and Swiss lawyer Antonio Rigozzi helped present the defense for both athletes.

Rooney's hearing began only 10 hours after his club was eliminated from the group stage the Champions League by FC Basel.

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