x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Eden Hazard's kicking incident shows sorry state of affairs at Chelsea

From John Terry's many misdemeanours to Ashley Cole shooting a student with an air rifle, Chelsea's elite players have been allowed to give the impression that they are above the law.

Eden Hazard sent off for kicking the ball boys. Michael Steele / Getty Images
Eden Hazard sent off for kicking the ball boys. Michael Steele / Getty Images

If nothing else, Chelsea are getting quicker at issuing apologies. It took them a year to acknowledge any wrongdoing when John Terry racially abused Anton Ferdinand. They waited weeks to say sorry when John Obi Mikel falsely accused referee Mark Clattenburg of racially abusing him.

In comparison, within 90 minutes of the final whistle at Swansea, Chelsea reported that Eden Hazard and Charlie Morgan had apologised to one another after the Belgian was sent off for kicking the ball boy in a misguided attempt to dispossess him and restart play quicker. See video

A damage-limitation strategy may restrict his ban to the statutory three games for violent conduct but yet more harm has been done to Chelsea's battered image.

Some, indeed, was inflicted by those charged with presenting the club in the favourable light. Chelsea even apologised for a comment on their official Twitter feed, defending Hazard and asking: "Has the world gone mad?"

If it has, it is unlikely Chelsea will be the last bastion of sanity.

Yet it is unfair to dwell on the mistakes of comparatively-lowly paid member of the press office, charged with seeing the world through blue-tinted glasses and attempting to excuse the actions of a millionaire footballer.

What should be more concerning is firstly the reaction of too many current and former players, whose immediate inclination was to blame the ball boy - this was an insight into the mind-set of too many, with a combination of an ignorance of the laws of the game and a willingness to find fault with outsiders, rather than themselves - and secondly the involvement of Chelsea.

To paraphrase Mario Balotelli, why always them?

Perhaps because the wrong example is set at the top. Roman Abramovich's ruthlessness is legendary; if a Champions-League winning manager can be booted aside, why not an unknown Welsh teenager?

From Terry's many misdemeanours to Ashley Cole shooting a student with an air rifle, Chelsea's elite players have been allowed to give the impression that they are above the law.

That is not to say all act in the same way - it was noticeable that Frank Lampard was quick to check if Morgan was injured while, on and off the field, there is much to admire about Juan Mata - but it is easy to see how a recent recruit like Hazard could get the wrong impression.

He is young and gifted enough for this to be viewed as an isolated error but for Chelsea both saying sorry and exiting a Cup competition is not.

They have missed out on five trophies this season and issued four apologies.

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