In my many years of watching football, I can’t recall an incident as bizarre and baffling as the one involving Eden Hazard on Wednesday night. I’m sure you’ve all seen the footage, Hazard kicked the ball boy at a time when Chelsea were frustrated and in urgent need of the ball, after the ball boy was blatantly time wasting.
The term “kicked” is a highly suggestive term and connotes the entirely wrong images. It suggests that Hazard, in a fit of rage whacked the ball boy as hard as he possibly could.
That is in no way the case. The only reason Hazard swung his foot back was to get the ball out of the ball boy’s body which covered the ball in an attempt to waste time.
I myself have played in games with friends where the goalkeeper has had both hands on the ball and in an attempt to score a cheap goal players have kicked the ball out of his realm. Childish behaviour, I know, but this is all Hazard wanted to do. Get the ball. He didn’t mean to kick the boy (if he even did) surely anyone speaking honestly would realise and appreciate this?
A 22 year old footballer kicking a ball “boy” is also misleading. The term “boy” connotes he was about twelve or thirteen years old, but in reality the “boy” is seventeen. He knew exactly what he was doing, Hazard didn’t attack some innocent kid, which is the way some people are referring to the situation as.
The ball boy was purposefully wasting time, as his tweet sent earlier in the day read “#needed for time wasting”. The ball boy covered the ball with his body, it was obvious that he was attempting to waste time. After the kick, the boy was clearly exaggerating the severity of his injury, you could see it in his face. He obviously felt some pain, but there can’t have been much damage.
Don’t get me wrong, Hazard deserves some blame. It was foolish to kick a ball boy; it’s foolish to kick anyone on a football pitch, especially with the cameras which are seemingly able to pick up everything that occurs on the field of play. Ultimately, Hazard made an immature, unnecessary, and spare of the moment decision that backfired, and resulted in him receiving a red card.
I cannot blame or criticise the referee’s decision either. It is extremely rare that a player gets involved in a physical altercation and with only his assistants to offer contrary opinions.
In the end, a red card was probably appropriate as Hazard did physically assault someone, albeit not intentionally. Any more punishment of Hazard would be unnecessary, with the exception of perhaps a verbal telling off by the FA.
To conclude, I believe this entire incident has been blown out of proportion on a ridiculously large scale. Hazard did in no way mean to hurt the boy; in fact I don’t think he even meant to touch the boy at all. He wanted the ball, and did what was required to get it.
Admittedly, Hazard crossed the line and should have been calmer rather than kicking or trying to physically force the ball out of the boy’s control. I agree sending Hazard off was the appropriate decision from referee Chris Foy, but some of the reaction to the incident has been utterly ridiculous.
The boy was not in much pain, but people are acting as if it was a kick on the scale of Eric Cantona’s Kung-Fu kick in a Manchester United game away to Crystal Palace. Now that was reprehensible.
To suggest more punishment and branding Hazard a ‘’thug’’ as some tabloid newspapers have is laughable, he has apologised and I hope this is the end of this particular fiasco.
Written by Joshua Sodergren
Follow him on Twitter @chelsealad1365
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