Eden Hazard, or any footballer, can't be allowed to take the law into their own hands, says Henry Winter
Last Updated: 27/01/13 10:54am
Footballers frustrated by time-wasting cannot take the law into their own hands no matter how trying the circumstances, says Henry Winter, of the Daily Telegraph.
Winter told the Sunday Supplement that players must instead trust match officials to take the right action against anyone unfairly trying to slow the game down.
"The referee has to run games and he can't allow a player from whatever club to take the law into his own hands and try to hurry the game up, however frustrating it was."
His comments came after Chelsea's Eden Hazard was charged with violent conduct by the Football Association after kicking out at a Swansea ball boy who was lying on top of the ball during this week's League Cup semi-final, second leg clash between the clubs.
The midfielder - who was sent off following the incident, which occurred 78 minutes into the match - is likely to contest the charge.
Chelsea lost the tie 2-0 on aggregate after drawing the second leg 0-0 and Winter said the Hazard incident had robbed Swansea of some deserved acclaim.
"I was at Millwall [against Aston Villa] on Friday night and clearly the ball boys had been told, whether by the club or by the FA - who mentioned it when they charged Hazard, that ball boys shouldn't time waste," he said. "The Millwall ball boys were like fly-halfs, scrum-halfs, flicking the ball back in.
"So that's a constructive thing immediately, that ball boys shouldn't time waste.
"I was there at the Chelsea match and it was wrong what this 17-year-old did. There is another issue - should 17-year-olds be ball boys? It's more of a 'ball teen'. Clearly what he did was wrong in terms of the time-wasting.
"But there are a couple of things that I simply don't buy in this. First, that Swansea are almost culpable of being behind this 'deliberate' strategy of time-wasting. I don't think that is in the culture of the club and it's certainly not in the culture of the manager, Michael Laudrup.
"If you were actually at the game - and a lot of columnists weren't - Swansea were the ones going for the goals. They weren't time-wasting, they were the ones who wanted to score more.
"I feel sorry for Ashley Williams, who was absolutely magnificent at centre-half; all of the focus has been on this rather than the great achievement by Swansea, who deserved to go through over the games."
Hazard will not face criminal action over the incident, but in a statement the Football Association said it considered the three-match ban incurred for a red card "clearly insufficient".
Winter said referee Chris Hoy had little option but to send Hazard off if the authority of the match officials was not to be undermined.
"My immediate reaction [with Hazard] was straightforward - it's a red card - because decisions on time-wasting and whether a 'ball teen' is messing around should be left to the assistant referee and referee," he reflected.
"There is a whole issue in this country about the undermining of referees. We've seen Sir Alex Ferguson and Sam Allardyce among others having a go at officials and we're slightly culpable of having a go at referees in the media as well.
"But the referee has to run games and he can't allow a player from whatever club to take the law into his own hands and try to hurry the game up, however frustrating it was.
"If you actually look at the end of the game now when they hold up the board for how many added on minutes there are, there are six or seven minutes. Referees are very quick on time-wasting.
"Let's leave it to the officials, let's leave them in charge of the game."