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The debate has been raging online over the past week. Was referee Chris Foy right to send off Eden Hazard for apparently kicking out at a ball boy, during Chelsea’s Capital One Cup away leg against Swansea? SCAN Sports writers Will Taylor and Erik Apter look at the conflicting arguments that surround the events, of what is now being coined as “Ballboygate”.
Erik Apter, SCAN Sports Deputy Editor – Hazard was treated harshly
If you read the headlines after the Swansea vs. Chelsea game, you probably read a headline along the lines of “Hazard kicks Ballboy”. This instantly generates an image of an over-paid, premiership footballer, brutally kicking a small innocent 12 year old ball boy out of nothing more than arrogance and frustration.
If the headline were to read “Hazard sent off for prodding ball from underneath time-wasting spoilt brat ballboy” it’s a significantly less snappy headline and would sell less papers, but it gives a much better account of what actually happened.
Let’s look at the true events. Seventeen year old Charlie Morgan (yes seventeen, not twelve) did not fall over, nor was he pushed by Hazard. Morgan deliberately lies on the ball to waste time, and there is no more damning proof for this than his twitter account to which he sent a tweet claiming he would be #timewasting.
This is the same twitter account that the seventeen year old uses to brag about his rich Swansea-director dad, and the fact he has expensive first class trips to countries all around the world; Mr Morgan is far from the fountain of innocence.
Footballers these days get a rough ride over their commitment and the fact they earn too much money. This in a sense is true, but why then vilify one whose only offense is trying to get the ball back as quickly as possible so his team have a chance to get back into the game? Is that not the kind of commitment fans are looking for? (By that I mean desperately trying to win the game for your team, not kicking ballboys)
So to the incident itself, Hazard did kick under the ball boy, whether he caught his ribs is irrelevant. There was no maliciousness in the kick-it was a prod, the boy should not have been lying on the ball and not once in the entire incident does Hazard show any aggression.
Ex-Chelsea winger Pat Nevin says he would have done the same thing, and you know what? So would I. At least young Charlie Morgan got what he wanted; his five minutes in the spotlight and 100,000 more Twitter followers.
Will Taylor, SCAN Sports Editor – Chris Foy made the correct decision
Firstly, I would like to point out that I am in no way condoning the actions of the ball boy that led to the incident. His deliberate delaying of play was unprofessional and should result in his dismissal from further involvement with the club. That said, the re-action of Hazard was completely inappropriate.
Whether he likes it or not, Eden Hazard is a role model. It is a concept that all professional sportsmen must embrace and accept. With this in mind, his actions during the aforementioned incident were reckless, unprofessional and completely idiotic. The argument that he was attempting to kick the ball out from underneath the ball boy is all well and good, but the fact of the matter is he should be mature enough to walk away from the incident and let the referee deal with the misconduct of the ball boy. He does not have the right to take the law of the game into his own hands.
Referee Chris Foy was left with little choice, and I sympathise with his position. It is easy to argue that on video replay, the kicks might have been aimed at the ball. But from where Foy was stood, all he can see is a player lashing out at a ball boy on the floor. Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher was similiarly dealt with in the high profile incident in 2002, when he threw a coin back at Arsenal fans. With this in mind, Hazard’s own stupidity is to blame for him seeing a red card in consequence, and thankfully Foy has been backed up by many leading footballing figures, with Gavin Taylor, the chairman of the PFA (Professional Footballer’s Association) labelling Hazard’s actions as “unacceptable”. He went on to say the Foy “had no choice.” In conclusion, you have to ask, if Foy had failed to punish Hazard for his actions, what kind of message it would have put across, and what effect it would have on the reputation of the ‘beautiful’ game?
What was your opinion on the Hazard incident? Feel free to let us know.