Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand believes there has been an “over the top” reaction to Wayne Rooney’s foul-mouthed celebration.
Rooney is facing a two-match ban for swearing into a television camera after completing his hat-trick in United’s 4-2 victory at West Ham this past weekend.
The England striker put the controversy to one side as he netted a fine winner in the Champions League showdown with Chelsea on Wednesday night, and Ferdinand has now called for an end to what he believes is a witch-hunt against the 25-year-old.
Ferdinand said: “Wayne Rooney swearing on TV, as much as I don't condone it, is not front page news.
“There are bigger things going on in the world. There are things happening in Libya and Ivory Coast and we are talking about Wayne Rooney on the front page of newspapers because he swore at a camera.
“We should follow him as a footballer rather than keep lynching him for a lot of the stuff that goes on.
“I wouldn't say he is innocent in a lot of the stuff that has happened but sometimes because of who he is the reaction can be over the top.”
While he has accepted and Football Association charge relating to the incident, Rooney has challenged the proposed suspension, and Ferdinand is hoping the striker wins his fight.
Ferdinand added: “Hopefully the decision will go his way.
“I don't feel sorry for him. He thrives off the attention. But he thrives off football attention rather than the stuff on the outside.
“He loves playing football. That's what he wants to be judged on and talked about.”