Thursday, January 24, 2013


Hot water: Hazard was sent off for this incident
This is sequence to yesterday's post on the incident which involved Chelsea's Eden Hazard kicking a Swansea ball boy to get the ball from him. The boy was wasting time because Swansea was at the brink of getting into a major football final in their history.

It's important to note here that Hazard shouldn't have done what he did. Everyone knows that and you will agree with me that he knows that too.

Not because it was particularly violent, but because it was violently stupid.

Referee Chris Foy's red card means the Chelsea winger will be banned for three matches and the Football Association may well choose to pile on further punishment. 

Marching orders: Hazard (right) is sent off by referee Chris Foy
Having said that, it's time to accept that there are two sides to every story and Hazard is not the only party who should be criticised. 

Charlie Morgan, son of Swansea director Martin Morgan, certainly played his part in an incredible moment.

Morgan started the day by boasting to his 11 twitter followers that ‘the king of all ball boys was back for one final appearance’. By 10.30pm more than 50,000 were following him and the comments from football fans around the world were a mixture of sympathy and abuse.

Earlier in the day he had tweeted that he intended to waste time to help Swansea hold on to their precious 2-0 advantage from the first leg. With about 12 minutes left, he did just that, holding on to the ball and refusing Hazard’s requests to return it quickly for a Swansea goal-kick.

A Twitter account widely recognised to be that of the ball boy - aged 17 and hardly a boy, but 'ball teenager' doesn't have the same ring to it - carried some interesting messages posted before the match.

One read: 'The king of all ball boys is back making his final appearance #needed #for #timewasting'.

Sure, at football grounds the length and breadth of the country, time wasting happens. Ball boys might keep hold of the ball a little longer than they should.
But when have you ever seen one jump on top of the ball and smother it, refusing to budge?
Milking it? The ball boy feels his ribs as the players scuffle on the pitch

Because it's his 'final appearance' at the Liberty Stadium he's unlikely to be punished by the club.

And why would they punish him? Swansea will not admit to telling their ball boys to waste time. 

It's one thing for players to timewaste, players competing against each other, looking for an edge.

And totally another for people hired to facilitate the playing of the game to get involved

Swansea should be the subject of an investigation by the FA for the conduct of their ball boys.

And for what it's worth, it's debatable whether the ball boy even got kicked anyway. Hazard sticks his boot in and the ball pops up the other side.

The apparent agony of his victim was laughable, particularly when you factor in the image of two staff members carrying him off as if he were an injured footballer. He certainly reacted like one.
Whipping up a storm: The incident invoked a mixed reaction on Twitter
Having turned 22 earlier this month, Hazard is barely five years older than the so called ball boy.

What we saw was closer to two brothers messing around in the back garden. 

On Twitter several footballers agreed. Reading's Noel Hunt wrote: 'I kick the ball from under my niece like that and she starts laughing she's only 2!'.

Southampton's Luke Shaw added: 'He never kicked him! He went to get the ball as I'm sure any other person in that situation would do the same thing.'

third edition twitter fallout.JPG
Stoke's Robert Huth chipped in with: 'Ballboys staying down injured... They'll be elbowing players off the ball next.'

And Michael Owen commented: 'Not having Hazard tried to hurt him though. He just tried to toe poke it out of his grip.'

There are plenty more which could be brought up too. And although some players like Rio Ferdinand and Phil Neville backed the referee for showing Hazard red, none suggested he had actually kicked the boy.
Really, the problem and question we should be asking isn't 'why did Chelsea star Eden Hazard kick a ball boy?'. 
Floored: Demba Ba checks on the ball boy after the incident
Football pundit and former coach of England Glenn Hoddle remarked on a separate incident which took place ten minutes before the Chelsea player's moment of madness.

The former Blues boss noted how another Swansea ball boy was slow to return to ball into play, but he was quick to condone the Belgian's subsequent actions.

Hoddle said: 'He's very slow, he rolls the ball deliberately slowly back to goalkeeper, he's bent, mark my words.

'He's been told, the ball boy would been told to do that. The Chelsea players were aware of what was going on.

'The ball goes off, the ball boy lets the ball go past, he's taking his time. And the young lad falls on the ball.

'But you can't condone what Hazard then does.'
He added: 'You do that as a management team, I know for a fact in European games, you will tell people who are instructing ball boys that if you're winning game, don't get ball back quickly.

Co-pundit Chris Coleman added: 'You can't do what the ball boy does for starters, that's wrong, but Hazard cannot give that reaction.

He kicks the ball boy, that's just frustration and you can't do that.

The ball boy is lying on the ball, I can't say I've seen that before, but that reaction from Hazard is not the right one. The ref had no option in the end.'

Chelsea's official Twitter account reacted angrily to the incident before apologising...
9.45pm: 'Has football gone mad? Hazard is sent off for kicking the ball under a ballboy attempting to smother the ball rather than return it. #CFC'

10.30pm: ‘Apologies for earlier ballboy tweet. Hazard has now met with the ballboy and has said sorry. #CFC’  

third edition twitter fallout.JPG
Former England international Michael Owen wrote on Twitter:

I'm not saying Hazard isn't in the wrong but I hate to see a person who instigates a situation then cry foul for next to nothing.

'My oh my. What am I reading? People mentioning assault? He shouldn't kick the ball out of his hands but has this world gone mad?

'Both the kid and Hazard were in the wrong. Not having Hazard tried to hurt him though. He just tried to toe poke it out of his grip.  

The million dollar question is this'' What sort of sport is so messed up that even the ball boys are attempting to cheat? Hmmmmmmmmmm


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