Rooney's refusal to admit guilt backed by FA

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The Football Association has backed Wayne Rooney's refusal to apologise for his stamp on Ricardo Carvalho which resulted in a red card against Portugal and the striker will now have to take his chances with the world governing body, Fifa, who will decide the length of his ban next month.

The 20-year-old was told he could reduce a potential five-match ban by one match if he apologised, instead he will write to the governing body with his own version of events. On Monday, Rooney issued a statement in which he said that he "absolutely categorically" denied that he had intentionally stamped on Carvalho.

As well as a fine, Rooney faces missing out on the start of England's Euro 2008 qualification campaign under Steve McClaren - if he is banned for five matches then he will not return until the game away to Israel on 24 March. The FA's director of communications, Adrian Bevington, said: "I can confirm the FA will be submitting a response to Fifa within the next 36 hours with regard to Wayne Rooney's sending off.

"Wayne has already made clear publicly he did not have any intention of making contact with Ricardo Carvalho. It is also worth noting that we believe there were one or two potential fouls against Wayne during the same move."

While Rooney has expressed his surprise at the decision, the Argentinian referee Horacio Elizondo has not officially made clear whether he gave the red card for the stamp on Carvalho or the subsequent push in the chest that the 20-year-old gave to Cristiano Ronaldo as he came over to remonstrate. The official verdict is that Rooney was dismissed for "violent conduct".

The FA hopes that the letter will be enough to keep the ban down to two matches although it will count against Rooney that he has not apologised. Fifa reduced the sentence handed to Italy's Daniele de Rossi for his elbow on Brian McBride earlier in the World Cup from five matches to four after he apologised.

The Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, yesterday gave his support to referee Elizondo. He said: "The referee was touching distance from the players and he took the decision according to what he witnessed. I can only say that the referee's decision is final and I have not seen any protest from fans or even team-mates on the field of play."

Peter Crouch has blamed the exhaustion caused by Rooney's sending-off for England's dismal performance in the penalty shoot-out with Portugal. "I honestly felt exhaustion set in at the end against Portugal," the Liverpool striker said. "We'd played quite a lot of the game with 10 men and I think we took the penalties in a tired way.

"Everyone worked so hard and I genuinely feel everyone had given everything by the time we had to take the penalties. That definitely showed in the penalties we had to take."

He added: "We have come in for criticism in the past for not practising but I can assure you, we had been practising them all the time after going to Germany in early June - and before that. They had been going well in practice - but we were fresh then."

The FA has spoken to Fifa and are awaiting further guidance about whether England's friendly against Greece is likely to go ahead. Greece were suspended from all football by Fifa on Monday because of government interference in the national association. The ban has thrown England's game against the European champions, at Old Trafford on 16 August, into doubt.

Blatter said he is hopeful the dispute will be resolved before the new season kicks off. "This is an alarm call for the Greek government and I am sure it will be listened to because this is more about a clash of personalities than anything else," he said. The clash of personalities is between the Greek sports minister and the head of the Greek FA.

At the moment, Greek law states that the sports minister has the power to over-rule the FA on football matters but Fifa wants this changed so the Greek FA can work independently.

Fifa's deadline for compliance is 18 July, but Blatter has raised the issue now in a bid to force it onto the agenda in the Greek parliament.

The FA has no choice but to investigate other options for 16 August in case the dispute is not settled.

Many countries who want to play on that international date have already fixed matches but the FA has received some encouragement from other teams.

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