Debate: After he kicked a Swansea ball boy, do you have any sympathy for Chelsea's Eden Hazard?


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The Independent Online


What's going on?

Last night, after a frustrating evening of football for Chelsea, who were held to a 0-0 stalemate with Swansea in the Capital One Cup semi-final second leg, winger Eden Hazard appeared to kick in the ribs a ball boy who had chosen to lie down on the ball rather than hand it over to restart play. Twitter has seen lively debate on the subject of who was more in the wrong here (as it's pretty clear nobody's in the right) - and we've got our own poll running. But what do you make of the situation: does Eden Hazard - a man who earns upwards of £150, 000 a week - have a responsibility not to blow his top? Or is this a time when a footballer deserves a break?

Case for: Harmless

One thing that that's not doing Eden Hazard any favours at the moment, his foreignness. If this man were an England international the hoary pundits would be out in force to say this was an understandable action (void of malice as it clearly was) taken as the only possible action against a ball boy flagrantly disregarding his duties. As it is, Hazard's got a bit of an arrogant look about his face, leaves half our good honest left backs on their backsides, and is consequentially being branded a thug by people like Piers Morgan. This was a harmless attempt to retrieve a ball. If it was the 70s the kid would have been lucky to leave the pitch with his head.

Case against: Role model

First of all, Eden Hazard is a professional football player. That confers certain obligations on him, not least because he is in the public eye (as he knows). These obligations include not taking out your frustration on 17 year-old ball-boys. It’s not too much to ask, when players are reportedly getting around £170,000 per week, and charging fans an astronomical price for tickets as a result, that they keep these obligations at the forefront of their mind. Second, being a footballer, he’s a role model whether he likes it or not. Millions of people, many of them children, look to him for their example. And third, as a human being, it’s generally not on to go around kicking ball-boys – even if (and it’s a very big if) he was actually trying to kick the ball. Hazard has set an atrocious example and shown that he thinks violence is a route to getting what you want.