English soccer authorities have charged Chelsea player Eden Hazard with violent conduct for his altercation with a ball boy during a recent match against Swansea.
Hazard was shown the red card after he appeared to kick the ball boy, who was refusing to give the ball back.
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Marco Werman: Did you hear about the highly paid soccer player in England who kicked a ball boy during a game? There’s a video making the rounds and it’s not a pretty sight. Well the player has now been officially charged with violent conduct by the English Football Association and could face a lengthy suspension.
William Troop: That’s not all there is to it, though.
Werman: Okay then. The World’s William Troop is here to tell us more about this bizarre story. So William, what exactly happened?
Troop: Well the game happened just a couple of days ago, on Wednesday, and there were two teams playing in Wales actually. One was a local Welsh team, Swansea. The other is the English team, Chelsea. Very highly paid bunch of players and Swansea was winning and if the scored stayed the way it was, it was Swansea that was going to advance to a final league cup game at Wimbley Stadium. Very prestigious and so time is running out, Chelsea needs to score. The ball goes out and the ball boy gets it and a ball boy, as we all know, is supposed to grab the ball, give it back to the player so they can get on with the business of playing. Well this ball boy didn’t do that. He fell on the ball. The Chelsea player, a Belgian guy named Eden Hazard, came and tried to get the ball. The ball boy just didn’t move and this frustrated player kind of, you know, gave it a little nudge, a little kick, with his foot to the ball which was under the ball boy and got it loose and he thought he was on his way. Well, it didn’t end up that way and this is how the BBC commentary played it.
[clip of BBC commentary] The ball boy seems to have landed on the ball and Hazard is trying to get the ball off him and, well, the ball boy is now rolling around and we’ve got an incident here. It’s a red card that’s being produced and Hazard has been sent off.
Werman: Alright. A red card, that means the player who kicked the ball got ejected. Why did he do this? What’s so? I mean, is it just frustration?
Troop: Well he was just trying to get the ball and try to move on and to be fair, I think, to this player; this ball boy really wasn’t acting the way he’s supposed to act and he was being mischievous himself and this player, Eden Hazard, got very frustrated and he apologized right after the game and we have tape of that too.
[Eden Hazard speaking French, English through BBC interpreter] He was slow to give the ball back. I went to go and get the ball. I might have kicked the boy. I don’t think I did. I apologized in the dressing room. After the game, he came to the changing rooms. He apologized and I apologized.
Troop: So there you have it. They both apologized. They both said they’re sorry. Pretty much unanimous opinion around England is that they both were acting incorrectly and a lot of people say that’s where it should have ended.
Werman: But actually that’s not where it’s ended. It’s gone viral. Everybody’s, well a lot of people, have seen this video now and the player got an automatic three game suspension, but English soccer officials want more.
Troop: Yeah. I mean, they put out a statement today charging Eden Hazard with violent conduct and saying that clearly the suspension that was called for automatically, the three game suspension, would be insufficient. They’re looking like they’re going to hand him a much lengthier suspension. Which, you know, the debate is now on whether this incident really merited it. I mean, I’ve seen the video and it didn’t look that bad.
Werman: Why are they reacting so harshly, do you think?
Troop: I think because there is really a debate throughout soccer, not just in England, about players diving, players saying bad things. In England, they’ve had several scandals involving racist abuse between players and from the stands to players and it’s just getting a bit out of hand and I think this incident kind of just reinforces the notion that soccer, in general, is out of control. I mean, I think to be fair you’ve got to reprimand the ball boy as well.
Werman: Yeah. I was going to say, it looks like ball boys are now following the bad examples of some players.
Troop: The way he rolled around after this little kick from this player, I mean, he must have learned that somewhere and I think he learned it from the players on the field.
Werman: Worthy of an Academy Award nomination. The World’s William Troop, thank you so much.
Troop: You’re welcome.
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