Chelsea forward Eden Hazard was the central figure of the football world last week for all the wrong reasons, dismissed for “kicking out” at a “ball boy” during the League Cup game at Swansea City.
I thought the sending off was slightly harsh, though understandable. The resultant storm of abuse against the Belgian was ludicrous, and incomprehensible.
I am no fan of Chelsea Football Club. I thought it should have been deducted points for its outrageous claims against referee Mark Clattenburg, just the latest example of lack of class emerging from Stamford Bridge. When I heard about one of its players “attacking a ball boy” I was unsurprised. However, look at the video objectively and, frankly, Hazard does very little wrong at all.
The subsequent debate suggested Hazard was a role model and that kids across the nation would now feel it legitimate to “lash out” in such situations. To which I say – isn’t it?
One caller to BBC FiveLive suggested Hazard’s actions showed you have a right to fight back if someone steals your mobile phone in the street. Hazard did not fight back, he sought to wrestle the ball away. If someone steals your mobile in the street, do you not have the right to try to wrestle it back?
Others suggest Hazard “should have thought about what he was doing”. With ten minutes to go, his team was two down and needed to speed up the game to stay in the competition. What he was doing was trying to get the ball back from a “sideline official” (this was a 17-year-old, no “ball boy”) who was blatantly cheating (yes, cheating).
Pat Nevin came in for a storm of abuse for suggesting he would have done the same thing. Frankly, I commend his honesty. You know what, so would I…