Hazard faces ban, but Swansea 'millionaire ballboy' under fire
Charlie Morgan, son of the 32nd richest man in Wales, goes to ground after Chelsea row
CHELSEA'S ballboy-kicking midfielder Eden Hazard has been criticised by the Professional Footballers Association for "taking the law into his own hands" when he lashed out at teenager Charlie Morgan on Wednesday, but there has been a groundswell of support for the Belgian player in other quarters.
Yesterday, Pat Nevin called Morgan a "disgrace" and said his behaviour was "brattish" as he appeared to lie on the ball in an attempt to stop the Chelsea man retrieving it during the Capital One Cup semi final. Several players also voiced their backing for the Chelsea man on Twitter.
Among them was Joey Barton, the controversial former Manchester City, Newcastle and QPR player who now plays for Marseille. He was even asked to write a piece for The Times and obliged. "I don't think Hazard should have been sent off," he declared. "If the 'ballperson' had thrown the ball back as he was employed to do, instead of trying to mount it, then Hazard would have had no reason to retrieve it from under him in the frantic closing minutes of the game."
He, like many others, was also at pains to point out that the ballboy at the centre of the furore, Charlie Morgan, is 17 and the son of Swansea club director, Martin Morgan, who is the 32nd richest man in Wales with a fortune of £42m.
Much has been made of the teenager's Twitter page. Before the match he reportedly had fewer than 100 followers, but now the figure stands at more than 100,000.
Among the messages he posted before he found fame, was one that indicated he would do his best to waste time during the game, and he appeared true to his word.
His page on the social networking site "also contains photographs of a millionaire lifestyle which includes first-class air travel, broken champagne bottles, designer labels and staggering bar bills," sniffed the Daily Mail. "It all supports the notion he may be the richest ball boy in the Barclays Premier League, the heir to a family fortune built on a travel business and boutique hotels, who is even wealthier than many of the players."
But with the media out in force as the incident became "a major, if bizarre, news story", Morgan went to ground on Thursday. "The silence is probably very wise. The Morgans do not require the publicity or the money - and neither does Premier League football for that matter," noted the Daily Telegraph.
However, PFA chief Gordon Taylor said Hazard would have to face the consequences of his actions. "You can't take the law into your own hands," he told BBC Sport. "He lost his head and had to receive a punishment."