Chelsea exited the Capital One Cup semifinal leaving a stain of controversy when Eden Hazard was sent off for kicking out at a ballboy.
The match ended in a goal less draw and the Blues were knocked out of the competition after Swansea protected their two goal advantage gained in the first leg. But, the central talking point of the match was focused on Hazard’s attempt to retrieve a ball when he swung his boot at the youngster and bundled him on the ground.
With time running out, only 13 minutes left on clock, Hazard ran to 17-year-old, Charlie Morgan, after the ball had gone out of play for a goal-kick. Morgan, son of Martin Morgan, a Swansea director and local hotel owner, was slow to get the ball and kept it in his arms for with a clear of intention of wasting some time.
Hazard, in an attempt to pull the ball out tried to swing his boot at the ball and in the process made contact with the ballboy.
Chris Foy, the referee after consulting with his assistant showed Hazard a red card for violent conduct and the Belgian international is now expected to face at least a three game ban from the FA.
Hazard issued an apology last night that was quoted in the press:
“The boy put his whole body on to the ball and I was just trying to kick the ball and I think I kicked the ball and not the boy.”
“I apologise. The ballboy came in the changing room and we had a quick chat and I apologised and the boy apologised as well, and it is over. Sorry.”
Morgan didn’t suffer any serious injury while he was invited to Chelsea’s dressing room, where both apologised to each other before he shook hands with Frank Lampard and John Terry.
Chelsea football club however, reacted to the incident initially with a pinch of salt and criticised the boy for not returning the ball on the club’s official Twitter stream.
The club commented on Twitter, albeit apologised for making such remarks later on:
“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.”
Both the managers have a contrasting view on this. While Chelsea’s Rafael Benitez is sympathetic towards his player, his counterpart Michael Laudrup has censured the Belgian for this act.
The 22-year-old however got loads of support from football pundits and players from all around the globe.
Former Blackburn Rovers star and now a popular pundit Robbie Savage said:
“If the ball boy gives the ball straight back and does his job properly that doesn’t happen. You can’t kick a ball boy but Hazard was surely just trying to get the ball back, wasn’t malicious.”
Tottenham Hotspur winger Gareth Bale was echoing more or less the same tune, saying:
“Unbelievable decision by the referee to send Hazard off.”
However, Chris Coleman, the Wales manager, was equivocal with his statement:
“You can’t do what the ballboy’s doing, lying on the ball, but Hazard cannot give that reaction.”
The author of this article is Saikat Mandal, you can follow him on Twitter @SMandal87.