Well, we knew this was coming, didn’t we?
Independent regulatory commission will decide next week on Hazard’s ban for ballboy incident. FA will prosecute, pushing for higher tariff
— Sam Wallace (@SamWallaceIndy) January 25, 2013
The movie Glory, an Edward Zwick film about the 54th Massachusetts African American regiment in the Civil War (and one of the best war movies of all time—you’re welcome), features a scene in which some soldiers from the 54th get in a row with some white Union soldiers. Some epithets are traded and a fight ensues. At that moment, their white Major Cabot Forbes (Cary Elwes) breaks it up and threatens to bring up charges against the white soldiers. The black Sgt. Maj. John Rawlins (Morgan Freeman) implores him not to. “It’s a just a soldier’s fight,” he explains.
It’s a remarkable scene, particularly as the first third of the movie hammers home the importance, harshness, and frequency of military discipline. Rawlins appeal however is instantly understood by all involved, and the matter is dropped, and both sets of soldiers calm down and move along. Later, Rawlins and others encounter the soldier involved in the fight, who cheers them on in an epic charge on a Confederate fort.
Somethings there are clear injustices that require action and resolution, and sometimes there are unfortunate things that happen. Some are part of a larger change of wrong; others are atomized incidents of poor judgment with little long-lasting effect (this being Friday, tomorrow many of you will know what I mean).
I’m not an all-seeing judge, but I do side with the Guardian’s Daniel Taylor on his view of the Ball Boy Affair, made public shortly after the Capital One semi, in which he hoped in vain for the FA to let this one lie. “It was about a silly footballer and a silly boy,” Taylor wrote, “both of whom are probably old enough to have known a little bit better.” The FA however has decided it wants to pursue a punishment in excess of the three match ban, which all-but ensures this nothing of a story will stay with us for at least the next several weeks.
Of course the FA could not simply let this one sit; not for anything having to do with football, a game played at an impossible tempo by angry young athletes, but rather the public perception of inaction. The FA might ostensibly justify their pursuit of Hazard as a means to ensure footballers don’t abuse sideline staff, but it’s not even clear Hazard meant any malicious harm. He simply wanted the ball back and took a very stupid risk to get it back a little faster in the heat of the moment in a Cup semifinal that Chelsea were losing.
All that would have been required here was a fine, a stern warning, a public apology, and a clear statement by the FA on the deportment of touchline staff during football matches. Instead, the Football Justice Circus has pitched up tents, yet again.