The Lead

Basically this morning I could title this post Ball Boy, repeat the word “ball boy” roughly two hundred times, with a link to a GIF and YouTube video, and just sit back and watch the clicks roll in.

Why is that?

Almost none of us knew much about Eden Hazard as a person until last night’s incident with the kid who thought it would be a lark to subtly (and meaninglessly, in the grand scheme of things) prevent the Chelsea winger from getting the ball to resume play. And certainly none of us knew the ball boy in question.

And yet a fifteen second clip from a football match was all it took for millions of people to make a broad judgment about two people they know absolutely nothing about.

The reason this story remains of interest—long after we satisfied our initial curiosity over what it would look like to watch a professional footballer kick a ball boy—(it was just a little bit funny)—is because we want to make that kind of judgment. It gives us pleasure. Hence the extraordinary interest in this story, as evidenced by all sorts of bellwethers from the traffic numbers from Devang’s post yesterday to the fact Deadspin did its “We Actually Care About Football” shtick. “Hazard is childbeating scum.” “I’d kick the shit out of that ball boy if I was him.” Ad nauseam.

Call it the Law of the Tabloid Headline: offer up an horrifying outlier of human interest story that allows the reader to draw broad and likely false conclusions about the nasty state of the world safe in the confidence that it’s not our fault.

“SCUM: Man steals money from collection plate”—we want to read the story of the statistically meaningless incident, shake our head at the state of the world which, in terms of our capacity for evil, is unchanged for thousands of years, and ignore the pleasure in reading it that comes from knowing we’re fundamentally good because we would never do such a thing.

So we rejoice when offered a villain, even a villain who’s not particularly villainous, like little old Eden Hazard who will likely receive a match ban of some sort, and the ball boy who on the verge of an incredible result for Swansea made a very regrettable decision.

You don’t know who they are, they haven’t done anything to you, no lives were lost, no one severely injured, no result affected, and yet you want either (or both) of them punished (others have their own ax to grind). You should ask yourself why.

England

FA to investigate Eden Hazard’s hazardous actions.

City catching up with the likes of Madrid, Barca, United and Bayern in football revenue.

Zaha to undergo medical before solidifying deal with United.

West Ham’s Potts to undergo scans after collision with Arsenal’s Sagna.

Italy

Fernando Llorente will head to Juve in the summer.

Italy’s technical director Roberto Baggio quits.

La Liga

Madrid set revenue record worldwide.

Casillas’ hand fractured, may miss Champions League games vs United.

According to Marca, Casillas and Ramos give Madrid president ultimatum, ‘it’s Mourinho or us’.

Germany

Amauri declines offer from Hoffenheim, will remain with Parma.

Bundesliga clubs surpass two billion euro mark.

Klopp promises to improve his team’s home record.

Bit and Bobs

Here is latest football controversy (in case you missed it): Eden Hazard kicks ballboy.

“He must have been watching footballers with the way he rolled around and pretended to be more injured.” Former Chelsea midfielder Pat Nevin defends Eden Hazard, says ballboy was disgraceful.

PSV Eindhoven miss three consecutive opportunities right in front of the net.