Chelsea were dumped out of the Capital One Cup by Swansea on Wednesday night but as surprising as the result was, the focus was firmly focused on a bizarre incident that happened off the pitch.
With ten minutes left in the match, and his side desperately needing at least two goals, Eden Hazard kicked out at a ballboy who refused to return the ball to the winger in a prompt manner.
The Belgian player appeared to kick the ballboy in the ribs after the young assistant had fallen on the ball and made no effort to return it. There is a debate whether Hazard was trying to kick the ball or the ballboy, but what is clear is that the Chelsea man made contact with the youngster.
The winger was duly shown a red card by referee Chris Foy and now faces serious disciplinary action along with the fact that he has brought unwanted controversy to his club. Twitter exploded in reaction to the incident, with Chelsea’s official account stating “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”.
Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez revealed that Hazard had said sorry to the boy, but criticised the youngster for failing to return the ball.
“Eden Hazard has been in to see the ball boy and the two have apologised to each other,” he said.
“The ball boy knows he was wasting time. They apologised and they know that it is a mistake.
“We can’t change the situation. We are disappointed to lose the player but we cannot change things and the best thing for us is to move forward.”
Swansea captain Ashley Williams was quick to condemn Hazard’s behaviour.
“(Chelsea striker) Demba Ba told me that the boy held onto it,” he told Sky Sports after the final whistle.
“I saw him (Hazard) kick him in the ribs, and you can’t do that.”