[OFF THE POST] Swansea City earning its first major cup final birth in the club's centennial season was overshadowed on Wednesday when Eden Hazard kicked a ball boy stalling for time in a scoreless Capitol One Cup semifinal in Wales.
Chelsea was outplayed over two legs, losing 2-0 on aggregate in the 80th minute at Swansea, when Hazard took out his frustrations on a ball boy at Liberty Park. He was sent off, and this incident may follow the Belgian 22-year-old for his entire career.
The ball boy turned out to be 17-year-old Charlie Morgan, the son of Swansea director Martin Morgan, and there is no doubt he was stalling, but the number of people downplaying Hazard kicking him with a cleat to retrieve a ball and save a few seconds is shocking.
Former Welsh international Robbie Savage tweeted: “If the ball boy gives the ball straight back and does his job properly that doesn't happen!”
Chelsea coach Rafa Benitez said, “He was wasting time, Hazard was frustrated and wanted to get the ball back quickly.”
Backlash forced Chelsea to apologize for its first official tweet on the subject which stated: “Has football gone mad? Hazard is sent off for kicking the ball under a ball boy attempting to smother the ball rather than return it.”
Hazard himself appeared to qualify his apology through Chelsea TV: “The boy put his whole body onto the ball and I was just trying to kick the ball and I think I kicked the ball and not the boy. I apologize. The ball boy came in the changing room and we had a quick chat and I apologized and the boy apologized as well, and it is over. Sorry.”
And even these Sky Sports analysts on our initial replay saw it as an "unnecessary distraction" that would've been fine if his cleat had hit only the ball ...
This announcer seems to have a little more perspective, grasping the big picture, and the egregious nature of Hazard’s act immediately and comprehensively ...