Police may investigate Eden Hazard after ballboy bust-up
While FA weighs up raising punishment from the standard three-game suspension
Eden Hazard could still face a police investigation after the South Wales force revealed that they were following up three calls from members of the public in relation to the Chelsea winger’s kick at a Swansea City ballboy on Wednesday.
The South Wales police said that they had received calls from “members of the public living in Sussex, Kent and West Wales” and were duty-bound to follow them up. It is understood they will speak to those individuals and then decide whether they should go further with the investigation.
It was a call from an off-duty policeman that prompted the police investigation into John Terry – that led to a subsequent Crown prosecution – over the allegation that he racially abused Anton Ferdinand in Chelsea’s Premier League game against Queen’s Park Rangers on 23 October, 2011. Terry was acquitted last summer.
In addition, the Football Association is considering raising Hazard’s punishment from the standard three-match ban for violent conduct following his dismissal for kicking at the ball underneath the ballboy, Charlie Morgan.
The FA’s governance department are expected to announce their decision on Friday having reviewed footage of the incident between Hazard and 17-year-old Morgan at the Liberty Stadium.
Chelsea have not appealed the red card and nor are they planning to appeal the three-match ban for Hazard, although that is an option for clubs who believe that a suspension of that length is excessive for the offence committed by the player.
Should the FA decide to press for a greater punishment for Hazard, the judgement would be made by an independent regulatory commission which would sit before the end of his ban – now in effect and starting with Sunday’s FA Cup tie at Brentford. It is likely to be in Hazard’s favour that he apologised to Morgan in the immediate aftermath of the game.
A new camera angle has emerged which appears to show Hazard making a connection with the ball under the body of Morgan and the ball popping out the other side of the ballboy as he lay prone.
Morgan is the son of Martin Morgan, the owner of Morgans Hotel in Swansea, the largest single shareholder in the club with a 22.5 per cent stake, and a man whose personal wealth is estimated at around £42m. A fellow Swansea director, vice-chairman Leigh Dineen, said that the club did not tell their ballboys to waste time.
Charlie Morgan had boasted on his Twitter account that as “king of ballboys” he was capable of wasting time returning the ball. Dineen said: “There was no agenda, absolutely not. Stoke, a few years ago, would get the ballboy to wipe the ball down for a long throw and that was something they were obviously told to do.
“It doesn't make any difference what age the lad is or if he was holding the ball or not – you can't kick out at anybody. The referee had no alternative but to send him off.”
After the game, the teenager is understood to have visited his father in the boardroom where he was instructed not to speak about the matter publicly or tweet about it – he now has more than 90,000 followers on Twitter. Meanwhile the senior Chelsea officials at the game – technical director Michael Emenalo, chief executive Ron Gourlay and club secretary David Barnard – discussed the best way forward for their club. They asked a club official to track down Morgan who was brought, with a female member of the Swansea staff, to the away dressing room. He was met by Frank Lampard and John Terry and brought over to meet Hazard. After the two had apologised, in Morgan's case for time-wasting, the teenager volunteered the information that he would not be pressing charges.
Chelsea also deleted a tweet on their official Twitter feed that criticised Hazard's red card – asking “Has football gone mad?” – and apologised for it. South Wales police have no timeframe to complete their inquiries.
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