John Millington writes about the response to the Eden Hazard ballboy incident.
A basic human ability to reason is something that distinguishes us from animals on this planet. However, this evolutionary fact could perhaps be called into question when examining Twitter today and the comments relating to the now notorious Hazard/ball boy incident.
It was a simple case of a professional footballer loosing his temper, lashing out and assaulting a member of club staff.
Eden Hazard along with the Chelsea team captain Frank Lampard met with the ball boy after the match and both parties apologised with the ball boy admitting he had tried to time waste. A red card is the minimum punishment for Hazard’s offence and disciplinary action should indeed follow as it was violent conduct. There the matter should be at an end.
However, sections of the media and general public seem to have at least temporarily lost their minds and gone on a witch hunt of the victim.
His name (irresponsibly leaked by the Sun newspaper) has given licence to Tweeters and Trolls to take to their keyboards to dish out the abuse the lad “deserves.” Screen shots have been taken of a pre-match Twitter status where the boy hashtags the word “time wasting”. Former Chelsea player and now pundit Pat Nevin took to BBC news suggesting the lad was not really a boy as he was 17, claiming he play acted and that a different camera angle would show “clearly” Hazard was attempting to kick the ball from under the ball boy.
The most retweeted post on the micro-blogging site is of a seriously injured bandaged individual, depicted as the ball boy recovering in hospital – a crude dig suggesting again he was play acting.
Since the fact he was time wasting and potentially play acting has been established, logic follows that he “deserved” to be kicked by Hazard. Some people are thinking ‘he’s probably an annoying little twerp who planned it all along – you can see from his Twitter pictures that he is an annoying little sod from Swansea’. In fact, if he hadn’t wasted all of, erm, 10 seconds in the 80th minute, Chelsea might have won.
I suppose he deserves all the consequences, unwanted publicity, abuse and death threats that will no doubt follow too, right?
Nothing, not any or all of these facts in anyway absolve Hazard – a professional sportsman from sole responsibility for kicking a defenceless boy while he was on the ground. Supporting the victim is a big thing in the popular mindset at the moment. Is it only outside of football and only if the victim didn’t deserve it that this maxim applies?
If the ball boy was wasting time, Hazard could have called the assistant referee over, had the boy reprimanded and the referee simply added the time on at the end.
Questions should be raised about what kind of attitude Hazard’s thuggish actions are evidence of – too much testosterone, rich man’s arrogance or just plain old thoughtless stupidity in the heat of the moment?
Stop, think, and take your pick.