VIDEO: Soccer Player Kicks Ball Boy
Just when it seemed Chelsea's reputation couldn't sink any lower after a controversy-ridden 2012, along came "Ballboygate.''
The Football Association's disciplinary body is set to open a fresh file on the English club Thursday after winger Eden Hazard was sent off for kicking a 17-year-old ball boy while attempting to retrieve the ball toward the end of a League Cup semifinal match against Swansea.
The Belgium winger has apologized to the ball boy and will not face criminal charges but will be handed a minimum three-match ban for violent conduct, depriving Chelsea of one of its top players.
"It is an extraordinary incident,'' former referee Dermot Gallagher said. "There's no defence for that. Someone said it was borne out of frustration but you have to accept it . It was an extreme but you can't have that at a football match.''
The incident sparked a flurry of activity on social networking sites and induced imaginative headlines in British newspapers, such as "Ed Case,'' ''Occupational Hazard" and ''Boots of Hazard." BBC radio has already been referring to it as ''Ballboygate."
Many ex-professionals have reacted with sympathy for Hazard, who was attempting to get the ball back into play as quickly as possible with Chelsea needing two late goals to force extra time in the second leg. The match finished 0-0, with Swansea progressing to the final 2-0 on aggregate.
(The Associated Press)