Another dark day for football!
Now I know that yesterdays disgraceful scenes at the Liberty Stadium had no direct impact on Tottenham Hotspur, but for me it was something that shames the game as a whole.
Perhaps to write about a disgrace and shaming the game, might seem an over reaction to some, but clearly yesterdays ball-boy kicking by Eden Hazard was another blow to our game, though for me, the Chelsea player was only one part of a problem where cheating and bad sportsmanship is gaining an ever stronger strangle hold on the game.
Clearly Hazard was wrong and acted stupidly, and within the letter of the law and probably spirit of the game was rightfully given a straight red card and may well even receive a greater punishment than the standard ban. This is probably something that will and should happen, for the image of the game. However, should there be sanctions against Swansea, as their 'ball-boys' were clearly making hard work of retrieving the ball and that is their one and only job after all. Would they get away with that lazy attitude on the centre court of wimbledon? I think not… Proving any team instructed ball boys to waste time is difficult, however they are representing a club and therefore are their responsibility.
If we look at the individual incident, though there is no way to defend the indefensible with Hazard, but to a degree, I understand his frustration, at someone not only wasting time, but by what was clearly a deliberate act of making it as hard as possible for Hazard to get the ball. Now lets not get carried away with the idea that this was some innocent twelve year old here, we are talking about a lad of seventeen, who knew exactly what he was doing and perhaps may have been acting with others to slow things down and assist his team.
Not only did Charlie Morgan, who is the son of a Swansea director, slow down in his efforts to retrieve the ball, but when he bent down, Hazard was already in a perfect position to take the ball as his feet were touching it and I'm sure he was verbally indicating that he wanted the ball. Seeing the lad then move to get his body between player and ball and then fall on it, was comical, but for me a clear act to stop a rival player from restarting play. Hazards trying to get the ball and ultimately kicking Morgan, was ill advised, but surely in the heat of a highly charged moment, but do we really believe he intended to hit or harm anyone?
Perhaps this can and will be a catalyst to make the authorities look at gamesmanship and cheating and take action. Ball boys hanging on to a ball as a means to waste time is hardly a new problem, nor is using a towel before taking throw-in or suddenly deciding that someone else should take it. Keeper's walking around the goal the longer way to retrieve the ball are not new or innovative ways of winding down the clock, but not only should refs take a tougher stance on such incidents, but perhaps by reporting clubs who use whatever unreasonable means to waste time, there should be punishments from the governing bodies, just as there should be for any other cheating such as diving or faining injury.
Sadly for the game, this one incident takes away much of the glory of Swansea City getting to a Wembley final, but when I look at their direct or indirect part in the Hazard sending off, I actually feel that they, Charlie Morgan and Eden Hazard should all take responsibility for yet another act of stupidity and gamesmanship that is blighting our game and needs to be stopped. For those Spurs fans who still only see one villain in Hazard here, be honest and ask yourselves whether your reaction would be different if it were Tottenham in that semi final and Gareth Bale did what Hazard did? Whether we admit it or not, I have a feeling that our view would be slightly different...