Football: Vieira escapes one-match ban

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The Independent Online
THE referee, Paul Durkin, has cleared Arsenal's French midfielder Patrick Vieira for the FA Cup quarter-final replay against West Ham next week. The official told the Football Association he was wrong to book Vieira in a Premier League match between the two London sides.

It means double relief for Vieira who expected a one-match suspension having already been shown a total of 10 yellow cards this season even before he was booked two minutes from the end of last Monday's goalless draw at Upton Park.

The bonus for Vieira is that now only three of those cards remain valid in counting towards a ban. For one card is struck from the record - on application to the FA - whenever a player completes five consecutive matches without a booking.

Thanks to Durkin's intervention, the expunging of Vieira's caution at Upton Park - his 23rd yellow card in just 18 months in English football - means that the Arsenal-West Ham FA Cup-tie at Highbury last Sunday is now deemed his fifth consecutive game without a caution.

Following a flare-up with West Ham's John Moncur after the whistle in that match Vieira's disciplinary record was again the focus of attention. The referee, Mike Reed, however, has said the incident will not be included in his report.