Fourth-tier Bradford City making it all the way to the Capital One Cup Final is truly a remarkable tale, an underdog story that's easy to get behind. What occurred during the second half of Wednesday's Swansea City vs. Chelsea League Cup match, however, was a bizarre incident that will surely be talked about for years to come.
First a brief summary of the match-up: Visitors Chelsea were down to Swansea 2-0 on aggregate when the ball went out for a goal kick 13 minutes from time. Both the ball boy and Chelsea's Eden Hazard reacted, with the ball boy beating Hazard to the ball by a step. The ball boy then slipped and fell to the ground/was pushed to the ground by Hazard/purposely dove to the ground to prevent Hazard from getting the ball in an attempt to waste time (you can decide on your own), and he then rolled over and either intentionally or unintentionally shielded the ball from the Chelsea player. Hazard, instead of protesting to referee Chris Foy or the ref's assistant, then made a kicking motion toward the boy's stomach.
At first glance, it appeared as if Hazard was merely trying to jar the ball loose in an attempt to restart play as soon as possible. Further replays of the incident, however, seem to show Hazard kicking the right side of the boy's stomach. Hazard then stepped over the boy, who had rolled over in pain, and grabbed the ball. Play was stopped as a handful of Chelsea players went over to check on the ball boy, and, after a discussion that lasted a couple of minutes, Hazard was shown a straight red.
Some individuals commentating on the matter via websites such as Facebook and Twitter have suggested that the ball boy was "milking" the incident, possibly to waste more time. There has even been speculation that he planned to do something like this all along (not yet confirmed as of the posting of this piece). Regardless, there is no defending what Hazard did in this situation. I understand he was frustrated about that situation and also with the fact that Chelsea were roughly 15 minutes away from being eliminated from the League Cup. Still, he has to keep his cool, step back, and let the referee sort the matter out.
Eric Cantona lost nine months of his career when he infamously kicked a fan at a match in 1995. While that moment in history and Hazard's actions during today's match are not one and the same, it's very likely that Hazard will soon be speaking with the FA about the incident. I'm willing to bet that he's going to have more than three matches to think about what will go down as the worst kick of his career.