James Lawton: The FA's correct response to failure of professional duty

You might have thought Hazard had the maturity to deal with his frustration

Eden Hazard can hardly complain of a heavy hand of justice with the decision of the Football Association to charge him with violent conduct.

The victim of his frustration may not command universal sympathy, indeed it is hard to disagree with much of the scorn that has come his way in the last 48 hours, but that does not absolve his attacker from a scrap of his professional responsibility.

The teenaged, self-advertising Swansea ballboy behaved appallingly, of course, but then he was what he was. Hazard is a hugely rewarded star of the game who, you might have thought, carried some awareness of his enviable position.

You might also have believed that he would have had the nous and the maturity to deal with a passing frustration in a reasonably mature fashion.

He might have appealed to the officials. He might have pointed to his wrist and the passing of time as the ballboy sprawled on that object which he was supposed to return to the field of play in brisk time.

But of course he resorted to a kick. On the touchline he failed as he and his extremely talented team-mates had out on the field.

He lost his head and failed, utterly, to fulfil his essential duty to behave as a professional. His defenders say he merely attempted to separate the misbehaving boy from the ball but you can look at a million reruns without finding a reason to deny the correctness of the FA charge.

Violent conduct is, of course, a matter of degree but in this age of health and safety there can be no question that at the very least Hazard stepped rashly on to the bottom rung.

There may be much ranting that the real culprit merely received some mild on-the-spot justice. But that's not the point or the principle rightly embraced by the FA.

Football is in desperate need of improving its image and changing the nature of its influence on young people. The charging of Hazard is a small but necessary step.

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