MICHAEL PEARLMAN SAYS: Ballboy episode is truly embarrassing
9:00am Tuesday 29th January 2013 in Sport
WHAT ugliness we’ve witnessed in the wake of the frankly ridiculous spat bet-ween Chelsea international footballer Eden Hazard and ball boy Charlie Morgan.
What a sad indictment of football, news coverage and sports journalism the past six days have been in the wake of what was an extremely unusual incident.
The matter has been discussed to death and I’ll certainly forgive you for rolling your eyes and wondering why I’m adding to the myriad of words already penned on the topic.
In this instance it’s to break rank somewhat, because I feel the press coverage on this issue has been hypocritical and overly personal and has only added to a scenario where absolutely no one involved emerges with an ounce of credit.
Save for the referee on the night, Chris Foy, who did his job absolutely to the letter of the law, all the principal participants in the madness will doubtless regret their actions. And the FA deserve credit. Call them out of touch, but on this one they are right.
They simply MUST be seen to be doing something and adding a game to a mandatory suspension is their only realistic course of action. I’m less enamoured with the FAW who went to the length of issuing a statement saying Morgan won’t be a ball boy at the Wales friendly next week. Was that necessary chaps?
Was Morgan an innocent victim? Not at all. He didn’t behave in a manner befitting his role. His theatrical tumble and failure to swiftly give the ball back were both a dereliction of his duties.
As for Hazard, it was a moment of frustration (argu-ably understandable) but it was without question a red card offence.
Hazard would’ve been sent off had he done that on the field to a Swansea player, let alone to a minor off the field.
Both clubs acted sensibly in attempting to diffuse the situation and to move on. After an ill-advised tweet on the night, Chelsea even apologised. For them that’s staggering and surprisingly effective PR.
No such luck with the moving on though. It’s dominated discussion ever since, it remains the football issue of choice.
Two elements to that really bother me. The first is the treatment of Morgan.
Now I’ve stated, as most would, that Morgan should regret his actions, but the treatment of him by much of the press has been utterly deplorable.
There are two reasons why the media have felt they can target this lad, and let’s remember that’s what he is, a teenage boy.
Factor one is his age. Morgan is 17, not 12 or 13 or whatever age is deemed appropriate to be a ballboy.
But his age shouldn’t matter. Did Hazard check with Morgan for a passport or birth certificate before he booted the ball from under his body?
He could’ve been a tall 12-year old for all Hazard knew and then this is a very different story.
And by the way, hark at Pat Nevin, Robbie Savage, Michael Owen, Harry Redknapp and all the other football people so incensed and righteous in their indignation. Poor Eden, they cried. Shame on the ball ‘bloke’. If they all found Morgan’s actions so contemptible they should look in the mirror. If Morgan dived, where did he learn it?
If you want to see more of teenagers diving around pretending to be hurt, try visiting any Sunday League ground in Great Britain on any day of the season, it’s an epidemic started at the top.
The second stick to beat Morgan with, and the reason he’s still in the headlines, is because he has a rich family.
How dare he? they shout.
Who does he think he is, having parents (Swansea director Martin Morgan, worth an estimated £42 million, is his father) who worked hard and amassed a fortune?
Presumably Morgan should never be seen in public, save to work in a soup kitchen for the homeless wearing a big ‘I’m so fortunate’ badge.
And equally, would those who’ve sniped at him and trawled his Twitter feed for ammunition for radio or written diatribes be doing likewise if the person in question was in the care system or came from a broken home? I doubt it.
And the journalists in question are hypocrites for closing with the glib line: “The real tragedy is that we should be talking about Swansea beating Chelsea.”
Damn right we should be, but why won’t anyone? It’s in our control!
Swansea beat the Champions of Europe over 180 minutes, were the best side for about 173 of those minutes and never looked like conceding.
They are heading for a (first) major cup final in their centenary year and are arguably the greatest club side Wales has ever seen. So yes, we should be talking about them.
The fact we’d prefer to preach about such an ugly incident says a lot about football and journalism, and it’s not good.