Bodyguard for Sol as Spurs fans vent anger

London - Sol Campbell has become the target of a bitter hate campaign, a day after leaving Tottenham to sign with arch-rivals Arsenal.

An effigy of the 26-year-old England defender hanging from a noose dangled outside Tottenham's offices at White Hart Lane on Wednesday with the words "Judas scum" written on a white shirt.

Campbell's mobile telephone number has also been placed on internet websites with fans urged to bombard him with abusive calls and messages. Arsenal are reportedly considering providing Campbell with a bodyguard.

Campbell spent 10 years at Tottenham, a club he joined as a trainee. His £20-million (R227-million) move across north London, where he will be paid £100 000 a week, made him England's highest paid soccer player.

Campbell said he was ready to deal with the fall out of his switch.

"I know what happened with George Graham when he joined Spurs as manager after being at Arsenal but you have to deal with these things," he said.

Reports on Wednesday said Campbell's loyalty to Tottenham diminished when the club revealed details of his ongoing contract negotiations.

But fans are not convinced. The Tottenham Hotspur Supporters' Trust, officially recognised by the club as the voice of its fans, called Campbell a coward and a liar.

"Following Sol Campbell's move to Arsenal, the Trust believes that it is clear his previous protestations of love for Tottenham and respect for the fans were nothing more than the hollow words of a man too cowardly to tell the truth," the Trust said.

"The fact is, Campbell has consistently lied to Spurs fans. Had he come clean two years ago about his intentions, we would have understood and wished him well. Unfortunately, he lacked the decency and courage to be honest."

"Yet he must have known that joining Arsenal would be regarded by the vast majority of Spurs fans as the ultimate act of betrayal."

Campbell's agent, Sky Andrew, said the player had not broken any contracts or behaved badly in negotiations.

"There was a situation with both Nicolas Anelka and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and these guys were supposedly vilified for breaking their contracts," Andrew said.

"Now we have a situation where Sol has honoured his contract and people are not happy with that. One thing we have got to ask ourselves is: What does a player have to do for people not to criticise him. Do they honour their contract or break it?

"What if the club doesn't want you any more, is it OK then?"

Bodyguards are rare in English soccer. Eric Cantona had one after moving from Leeds to rivals Manchester United. United midfielder David Beckham also had protection after being sent off for England in the 1998 World Cup finals.

Meanwhile, Dutch striker Dennis Bergkamp praised his new Arsenal team-mate. "I'd rate Campbell as one of the top three players I've ever played against," Bergkamp said. "When you consider that I've played for Ajax, Inter Milan and Arsenal and in World Cups and European Championships, that tells you how highly I think of him." - Sapa-AP

  • Manchester United are confident that Beckham will commit his future to the club after further talks with the midfielder's advisors, the English premier league champions said on Wednesday.

    Reuters reports that United officials held the first detailed contract discussions with Beckham's agents at Old Trafford following a preliminary meeting in London in May.

    Paddy Harverson, the club's director of communications, told the club website: "Talks initially began with David's agents in London prior to the FA Cup final. Negotiations have now moved on to the specific terms of his proposed new deal, and are progressing well.

    "Another meeting has been scheduled for later this month as the club remain confident of retaining all their first-team stars on long-term contracts before the end of summer."

    Beckham, the 26-year-old England captain, has two years left on his current deal, which media reports claim is worth £28 000 a week. He can expect to at least double that figure under the terms of a new contract.


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