The MWAA said Rooney caused an alarm to go off at an international arrivals gate but didn’t breach airport security. He had returned from a promotional trip to Saudi Arabia. A person close to the situation said Rooney had consumed three mixed drinks and taken a sleeping pill on the flight.
“We are aware of news reports indicating that Wayne Rooney was arrested in December,” United said in a statement. “We understand the media’s interest in this matter but believe this is a private matter for Wayne that D.C. United will handle internally.”
The team had no further comment. Rooney was not available for an interview. It’s unclear whether MLS or United will discipline him.
WJLA-7’s Erin Hawksworth was first to report the arrest.
Rooney’s agent, Paul Stretford, said the player “took a prescribed amount of sleeping tablets mixed with some alcohol consumption and consequently was disorientated on arrival. He was approached by police who arrested him on a minor misdemeanor charge. The matter is now at an end. Wayne would like to put on record his appreciation for the manner he was treated by all involved.”
Rooney, United’s captain, was transferred to the facility operated by Loudoun County, the jurisdiction where the airport is located. A United staff member, a person familiar with the situation said, picked him up a few hours later.
Rooney, 33, then joined his wife and four sons for a previously scheduled flight to his native England for the holidays. In the United States, the family has a home in Bethesda.
This marked Rooney’s second brush with the law in the past 16 months. In September 2017, he was given a two-year driving ban in England after pleading guilty to being almost three times over the alcohol limit. He was also given 120 hours of community service. He apologized, calling it a “terrible mistake.”
Rooney’s latest arrest tainted an otherwise sterling first year in Washington. The former Manchester United and English national team forward revived the struggling local organization through his goal-scoring exploits and fierce work ethic. Stuck in last place in the Eastern Conference most of the year, United climbed the standings with a 10-game unbeaten streak and qualified for the playoffs.
Rooney’s presence also boosted interest in the team, which for years has operated in the shadows of the Washington Redskins, Nationals, Capitals and Wizards. United saw increases in attendance at its new stadium, Audi Field, and an uptick in merchandising sales.
Rooney is the highest-paid player in United history with a base salary of about $2.8 million, according to the MLS Players Association. He also collects substantially more through image rights, bonuses and sponsorship deals.
His contract runs through the 2020 season, with an option year for 2021.
United will open training camp in two weeks and begin the season March 3 against Atlanta United at Audi Field.