Football: Vieira on misconduct charge

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The Independent Online
THERE WAS bad and good news for Arsenal yesterday in the aftermath of their notorious Premiership game against Sheffield Wednesday on 26 September. Patrick Vieira was charged with misconduct by the Football Association, but Martin Keown escaped a three-match ban for his red card.

The FA has taken action against Vieira after studying a police report into his behaviour at the end of the match. He is accused of inciting Wednesday supporters by waving V-signs at them as he left the field and also pushing a police officer who tried to restrain him at the entrance of the players' tunnel.

Keown was sent off in the same game for his part in the incident that ended with Wednesday's Italian striker Paolo Di Canio pushing the referee, Paul Alcock, to the ground. Keown has been let off a three-match ban, but the red card will remain on his record.

"The FA investigated the matter very thoroughly and I would like to thank them for the fairness they have displayed," Keown said. "I believe they took my view that my intentions were that of a peacemaker. Now I feel as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders."

The FA commission stopped short of telling Alcock he was wrong in dismissing Keown, but the Arsenal player clearly feels vindicated by the decision to rescind the ban. As the red card remains on his record, however, Keown can expect an extra one-match ban if he is sent off for a second time this season.

Vieira, who is with the French national squad preparing for Saturday's Euro 2000 qualifier against Russia in Moscow, has 14 days in which to request a personal hearing but the Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, has vowed to defend him.

Wednesday handed Di Canio an indefinite suspension for his assault on Alcock and the player has apologised for his actions. However, he has said he suspected Alcock had dived to make the matter look even worse.

David Batty yesterday took the opportunity of an England training session to talk for the first time about his push on referee David Elleray after he had been sent off against Blackburn in the final stages of last season.

"You do get frustrated on a football pitch. You do things in the heat of the moment, and afterwards it's a bit too late to say sorry," the Newcastle midfielder said. "At the time I couldn't remember pushing him but I've seen the video, and it is there for all to see.

"When I see how people have reacted to the Di Canio incident, I have to say I think I got off lightly with a one-match ban."