FA will push to increase 'insufficient' Hazard ban
Governing body wants Chelsea player to serve more than three games for kicking ballboy
The Football Association set the stage for another disciplinary showdown with Chelsea today when it announced it would push for a longer ban for Eden Hazard than the statutory three games for the red card he received over the ballboy incident on Wednesday.
The FA said that a three-match ban for Hazard's dismissal against Swansea, in which he kicked at a ballboy, was "clearly insufficient" and an independent regulatory commission will decide next week the tariff that the player must serve.
In private, the club would have accepted the three-game ban. They are now likely to appeal against any additional games. Chelsea have until 6pm on Tuesday to put together their submission to the commission.
Hazard will start his ban on Sunday when his club face Brentford in the fourth round of the FA Cup at a time when manager Rafa Benitez believes his squad is too light on numbers to carry the club through a heavy period of fixtures. There have been long-term injuries to John Terry and Oriol Romeu while John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses are at the African Cup of Nations, narrowing Benitez's options.
"We do not have too many players and we are playing too many games," Benitez said. "We have played nine games a month, we have two players at the African Nations, we do not have too many bodies, we have to change players and it will be another approach."
Charged by the FA with "violent conduct", Hazard, 22, will potentially miss up to five games for Chelsea for the incident in the Capital One Cup semi-final second leg at the Liberty Stadium. A ban of that length would take him up to the fifth round of the FA Cup, providing Chelsea beat Brentford. The sixth game is the league fixture away at Manchester City.
There was some good news for the Belgium international today when South Wales police said they would not be pursuing any investigation into the incident with the 17-year-old ballboy, Charlie Morgan.
Hazard will not be required to give evidence at the independent commission hearing next week. Instead, there will be written and video submissions by the FA and Chelsea, with the latter hoping that a new camera angle from Sky Sports will help their cause. It appears to show Hazard making contact with the ball which emerges from under the ballboy.
In the meantime, Benitez takes his side to Griffin Park tomorrow hopeful that Chelsea can stay alive in a competition they have won in four of the last six seasons. He admitted that he had little option but to play Frank Lampard and Ramires in every game in the absence of Mikel and Romeu.
Benitez said: "If you talk about substitutions and how can you change the game it is not so easy. People say there are players you can play and you will score three times but if you play them too much they do not have the physical intensity. The players are a little tired.
"When we have three or four days' rest we are fine, when we have two we are not so good."
Latest in Sport
Daniel Sturridge reveals Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is 'very demanding'
Michael Schumacher 'experience' gives F1 legend chance to 'show his character', says Lewis Hamilton
Oscar Pistorius trial: Cricketer Herschelle Gibbs tweets 'lol #neveradullmoment' after autographed bat is used as evidence
The 10 funniest football chants revealed, with poll naming West Ham supporters as 'wittiest in the country'
Tottenham 1 Benfica 3 match report: Spurs face uphill battle in Europa League as Tim Sherwood gets into a scrap with rival Jorge Jesus
- 1 Tony Benn meets Ali G: Watch Labour veteran burn Sacha Baron Cohen
- 2 Women do experience two different types of orgasm, study reveals
- 3 Tony Benn dead: Veteran Labour politician passes away at 88
- 4 Istanbul protesters take 'Ellen selfie' from the back of a police van
- 5 Gauthier Soho has ranted against 'food blaggers' - so can we really trust online reviews?
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
Europeans have ‘got whiter’ due to natural selection in past 5,000 years, scientists say
Fracking is turning the US into a bigger oil producer than Saudi Arabia
The rise of Ukip: Study warns Labour that Eurosceptic party's electoral base now 'more working class than any of the main parties'