Thursday 14 December 2017

Benitez boost as Hazard escapes extra suspension for ballboy incident

Mark Ogden and Ben Rumsby

Eden Hazard has escaped an extended suspension for kicking a ballboy during Chelsea's League Cup defeat at Swansea City after an independent commission rejected the FA's assertion that a three-match ban was "clearly insufficient."

Belgian midfielder Hazard, shown a red card by referee Chris Foy following the incident with Swansea ballboy Charlie Morgan, had been facing the possibility of an additional suspension after being charged with violent conduct by the FA.

Although senior figures at the FA are known to be disappointed by the verdict, believing that a further penalty would have been justified, there are no plans to appeal.

With Hazard already forced to serve an automatic three-match suspension after being sent off at the Liberty Stadium, Rafa Benitez's Blues were understood to be prepared to challenge any decision to increase the 22-year-old's ban.

But following a non-personal hearing, the three-man commission dismissed the FA's call for further action, choosing instead to uphold the original three-match ruling.


An FA statement said: "Eden Hazard will not have his standard three-match sanction for violent conduct increased. Following a hearing, an independent regulatory commission was of the opinion the existing three-match sanction for this offence was sufficient.

"The FA alleged that Hazard's behaviour in relation to a Swansea City ballboy, for which the player was dismissed in the 78th minute, constituted violent conduct whereby the standard punishment that would otherwise apply was clearly insufficient.

"The player denied the charge and the matter was dealt with at a non-personal hearing."

Although the FA would be within their rights to appeal against the verdict, there is a view that the outcome of the Hazard case underlines the independence of regulatory commissions.

And while the FA's position remains that Hazard's offence merited a suspension of at least one more game, senior figures believe that no ground has been lost by failing to persuade the commission to accede to their wishes.

Meanwhile, the FA are expected to fine Alex Ferguson for misconduct today following the Manchester United manager's charge of improper conduct for comments about assistant referee Simon Beck.

Ferguson has until 4.0 to respond to the FA, but it is understood that he will accept the charge to avoid the distraction of a personal hearing later this month. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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