Published On: Wed, Jan 23rd, 2013

Cheating in Football – Even the Ballboys Are at it As Hazard Sees Red

Anybody witnessing the Capital One Cup Semi-Final tonight would have to think that football has now, officially, gone mad.   Swansea are through to the Final, where they will face the footballing fairytale that is Bradford City at Wembley Stadium.  But it is the sending-off of Eden Hazard, for kicking the ball from under the ballboy, who was lying on top of it, that will grab every headline, starting with this one.

If you didn’t see it, I’ll try and describe it for you.   It’s getting on in game-time, the last 10 minutes or so, and the ball drifts out for a Swansea goal kick.   The ball boy is in no great rush to retrieve the ball, quite understandably, and is dilly-dallying around the ball’s vicinity.   Eden Hazard spots the youngster’s procrastination and moseys over to get the ball.   As he approaches, the young man spies him and takes a dive onto said ball.  ”The Belgian Ball-Boy Buster” as he shall doubtless be christened (you heard it here first!) then attempts to get the ball back, but is given short shrift.  He then kicks the ball from under the kid, dislodging it.   Then, in an act worthy of the Rivaldo trophy of play-acting, the ball boy clutches his ribs as if he’s been savagely beaten by a gang of hoodlums and those fellas with the sticks.  Hazard, who by now has placed the ball down for the goal kick and rambled on, is then confronted angrily by several Swansea players.  The referee, Chris Foy, consults with his linesman and, Bob’s your uncle, flashes the red card in his chops.

Have a butcher’s hook at this if you don’t believe my account of the proceedings

I can’t help but feel sorry for Hazard, who was just trying to get the ball back from a ball boy who was deliberately not doing his job properly and then obstructing the Belgian when he’d rumbled his skiving.   I can understand the kid’s position in not giving the ball back quickly, as Swansea held the advantage, but there’s a marked difference between taking your time giving the ball back and deliberately keeping a hold of it and holding up play.   That’s not on and neither is Hazard kicking the ball from underneath him. I think if the Belgian had simply stood with his arms in the air, alerting the officials to this blatant bullshit, then they might have been able to help him but, he didn’t, and his red card was, by the letter of the law, probably correct (that’s a begrudging admission by the way, as I still reckon Hazard’s got the right to take the ball back).

In keeping with the current mass hysteria surrounding cheating in the game, I reckon the ball boy should now face a 15 match ban for simulation.  It’s the only possible, logical course of action that the FA can take.

Also, Swansea won 2-0 on aggregate, in case anybody missed that – well done to them.

Words by Andy MacKay