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Eden Hazard and the Ball Boy Incident

I honestly cannot believe what I saw last night. A frustrated Eden Hazard was sent off for allegedly kicking a 17 year old ball boy, Charlie Morgan, during Chelsea’s 0-0 draw with Swansea that led to their exit from the Capital One Cup Semi-Finals after losing the first leg 2-0. On a night where Chelsea lacked creativity, despite having Mata, Oscar and Hazard, 3 of the Premier League’s best playmakers, Chelsea failed to create any clear cut chances. Swansea defended valiantly with Ashley Williams playing brilliantly over both legs, ensuring that many clubs will be interested in him for the remainder of the transfer window. However, the incident that has got everybody talking is where Eden Hazard kicks a 17 year old Swansea ball boy after he refused to give Hazard the ball.

What Happened

Towards the end of the game, with Chelsea still needing 2 goals to force extra time, the ball went out for a Swansea goal kick. Hazard, eager to get on with the game, rushed to the ball boy to take the ball. However, astonishingly, Morgan refused to give Hazard the ball, and when the Belgian tried to take the ball from his grasp, he lay on top of the ball in order to stop Hazard getting it. Hazard then attempted to kick the ball from underneath Morgan, but instead caught him in the chest. In what was then undeniably an overreaction, Morgan clutched his chest and rolled around repeatedly, despite the kick being fairly soft. Many players, including Chelsea’s Demba Ba, gathered around Morgan to check if he was ok and he walked off comfortably, although still rubbed his chest. Hazard then recieved a straight red card from referee Chris Foy and Chelsea played out the remainder of the game with 10 men.

The Reaction

No one can deny that Hazard was foolish in kicking Morgan, and the forward has apologised to him and publicly, but much of the controversy has been over why Morgan refused to give Hazard the ball back. The answer is simple: time wasting. Morgan boasted on Twitter before the games that “The king of all ball boys is back making his final appearance #needed #for #timewasting.” Time wasting is bad enough when footballers do it, but now that ball boys are doing it, it has become ridiculous! A ball boy’s job is to return the ball to play as quickly as possible; they are there to save time. But the actions of Morgan were the opposite as he tried to waste time. Glenn Hoddle has defended the ball boy saying “As a management team in European games you will tell the people who are instructing the ballboys that if you are winning the game, don’t get the ball back quickly.” Quite simply, this is outrageous. Ball boys should simply collect the ball as fast as they can and not be biased to either team.

However, Glenn Hoddle is alone in his viewpoint. Many footballers and pundits have condemned the actions of the ball boy, but are also in agreement that Hazard was foolish to try and kick the ball. Michael Owen tweeted this: “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. How people can claim Hazard assaulted a kid is embarrassing. He shouldn’t of kicked the ball out of his grasp but he hardly booted the lad as some people were suggesting. The lads antics were scandalous and no wonder he isn’t taking any further action” He represents the view of many: the ball boy should have given the ball back and not exaggerated his pain. He also calls for “further action”. As far as I can tell, there is not much that can be done to punish Morgan. I would suggest not letting him be ball boy again for Swansea, but this game was set to be his final for Swansea and he was only asked to do it as a replacement for somebody stuck in the snow. The FA surely cannot fine a 17 year old for not returning the ball back, which does not leave many other options.

Stan Collymore summed up his views concisely: “Hazard deserved red (violent conduct rule). Kid is a prat. Ballboy job is to give ball quickly. End of.” Joey Barton, on the other hand, was as usual rather controversial. He said the following: “After reviewing last nights footage, I’ve come to the conclusion that the games gone. Ballboys aged 17, time wasting, then rollin round like they’ve been shot. Games gone. He was actually claiming to be best time waster in the world on Twitter yesterday! WTF’ that all about? … Hazard only crime is he hasn’t kicked him hard enough…” Joey Barton is possibly the only footballer in the world who thinks that Hazard should have kicked him harder and we have to thank the heavens that Joey Barton was not the player trying to get the ball from Morgan. Barton probably would have used a wide variety of WWE wrestling moves on the boy in order to get the ball back.

The police have spoken to Morgan and his father, who confirmed that they would not press charges. The FA have stated that they will review the incident, but the general consensus is that Hazard will recieve a 3 match ban. It is, however, extremely disappointing that such an incident is the main talking point from a terrific performance from Swansea (who have never been in a major cup final before) to set up a final against League 2 underdogs Bradford.

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