It’s nil all in the League Cup semi-final, 12 minutes to go. The ball has gone out, and the ball boy has tripped over and is lying on the ball. You want to restart quickly, so what do you do? For Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, the answer was apparently to kick the ball boy and make him roll off the ball.
The video of the incident has been making the rounds online. Hazard, clearly frustrated at the ball boy Charlie Morgan’s reluctance to hand over the ball, decides to give him a kick to encourage him to get moving. After some hammy acting on the ball boy’s part, Hazard is sent off, and the remainder of the match was played to a nil-all draw, giving Swansea a 2-0 aggregate win.
There’s no question that Hazard deserved to be sent off for his actions. He should probably also face further punishment, to send the message that kicking an official – even a ball boy – is never, ever an acceptable course of action.
But there is also a question about the ball boy’s actions. Especially in light of the revelation that he tweeted hours before the game that he would be time wasting during the match.
— Charlie Morgan™ (@CHARLIEM0RGAN) January 23, 2013
There was obviously a plan to give Chelsea’s opponents, Swansea, an unfair advantage (however slight) during the match by wasting time.
According to news reports following the incident, ball boy Morgan was allowed into the Chelsea dressing room where he and Hazard apologised to each other for their respective actions. Despite police announcing an investigation into the incident, both Morgan and his parents have decided not to press charges against Hazard.
While we will have to wait to see what the Football Association decides to do from here, the fact remains that this is a sad example of poor sportsmanship from an elite athlete.