Hazard wrong, but ballboy actions show growing need to win in football


Let’s make one thing clear straight away, kicking a ballboy is inexcusable and Eden Hazard should suffer the normal punishment that is handed out when red cards are given for violent conduct.

Talk of bringing in the police because of assault or a lengthy ban along the same lines as Eric Cantona for his famed karate kick on a supporter are just plain ludicrous.

Hazard knows he was wrong and has apologised. Sometimes things just happen in the heat of the moment and are instantly regretted.

In hindsight, Paolo Di Canio wouldn’t have pushed over Paul Alcock and David Beckham wouldn’t have had a petulant kick at Diego Simeone.

But with Chelsea needing two goals late on and the ball out of play, all Hazard simply wanted was the game to restart.

The ballboy’s actions are, on first impression, diabolical. He had no reason to lie on the ball, even if there is a light touch from Hazard that knocked him off balance.

Tweets to come to light after the game that suggested that his plan all along was to waste time do his cause no favours, while the fact he is 17 arguably makes him too old to be doing such a job in the first place.

Meanwhile, even if he was kicked by Hazard, it was not to the extent that he needed to roll around the floor in chronic pain. His walk around the pitch after Hazard’s red card holding his ribs as he went for treatment was also unnecessary.

With about 20 balls scattered around the pitch, Hazard should have simply left the ballboy alone.

This is where the rules of football may need to be analysed.

The previous evening, four minutes injury time were signalled in Aston Villa’s game with Bradford, with the ball in play for barely 90 seconds of this period.

If players believed that the watch was stopped when the ball went out, they would not be in such a rush to retrieve possession.

Former Wolves goalkeeper Matt Murray also tweeted that he had encouraged ballboys to waste time in the past and equally told them to hurry up if his team was in need of a goal.

Having more spacious dressing rooms, 95 per cent of the crowds and getting to choose the length of the grass are known perks of playing at home, maybe employing ballboys to waste time is just another thing to add to the list?

In professional sport, given the money and prestige at stake, win at any costs is certainly becoming of greater importance and this may just be the newest example to fit this philosophy.



Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.