Vieira accuses FA of bias against Arsenal

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The Independent Football

Patrick Vieira, the Arsenal captain, insisted that the Gunners are being victimised as he defended Sol Campbell in his disciplinary problems.

Vieira claimed Campbell was charged with violent conduct for retaliating against Eric Djemba-Djemba during the Community Shield match only because he is an Arsenal player.

While his comments initially appeared to lay the blame with the Football Association, the French international later said he was criticising the growth of trial by television, which focused on the incident involving Campbell. "If it had been a player at another club, I don't think this would have happened," he said.

Arsenal have declared their intention "vigorously" to defend Campbell, who is rated as having a 50-50 chance of recovering from a shoulder injury in time to face Middlesbrough on Sunday. "We have to do that," Vieira said. "It is ridiculous because this is where television is having more of an influence."

This was a theme expressed by Arsène Wenger last week, when he said that incidents involving Arsenal were highlighted more than those involving other clubs.

Campbell will miss at least one game for his red card against Everton, and is facing a further three-match ban if he is found guilty of violent conduct. However, the FA commission could reduce the charge to improper conduct.