What was Eden Hazard thinking?
That is a ball boy—keyword there being boy. It is bad enough to kick anyone when they are on the ground, but a youngster? Well, that is going to enrage people from all over.
UPDATE: Monday, Jan. 23, at 5:35 p.m. ET by Richard Langford
The BBC tweeted that Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez passed along that the two involved in this bizarre incident have apologized to each other:
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Chelsea has their version of what Hazard was thinking, and they shared that on the club's official Twitter account:
Has football gone mad? Hazard is sent off for kicking the ball under a ball boy attempting to smother the ball rather than return it. #CFC— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) January 23, 2013
What? Has football gone mad? What about your player? He is the professional athlete who is kicking a kid.
There is no doubt that the ball boy was not doing his job properly and Hazard initially tries to reach for the ball with his hands, but that doesn't make it alright to start kicking at the ball when someone is wrapped around it.
It temporarily worked out for Hazard. He got the ball, but there are countless better alternatives he could have used here. Hazard would have been well-served in this instance to think this one through.
Swansea captain Ashley Williams told BBC:
"Demba Ba told me that the boy held on to it. I saw him [Hazard] kick him in the ribs, and you can't do that."
The 22-year-old Hazard was likely having a hard time keeping his cool to begin with. At the time of this incident, Chelsea was tied, 0-0, with Swansea City, but trailing, 2-0, in aggregate.
So, Chelsea needed a huge showing on this day to keep their tournament hopes alive.
Hazard freed himself from the stress of having to make up those two goals, as he was sent off for the deplorable act.
The match ended, 0-0.
There is certainly going to be a fallout from this turn of events. It will be interesting to see if Chelsea comes out with a different statement, and what Hazard has to say in his defense.