Real Madrid and Belgium superstar Eden Hazard has been left stunned after a reporter had the audacity to call him fat at the FIFA World Cup – and then ask for a photo with him.
The Egyptian journalist, who has not been named, questioned Hazard after Belgium suffered a shock 2-0 loss to Morocco that has their World Cup campaign on life support.
‘We noticed that you have gained a little weight,’ the journalist stated in Arabic.
Hazard then picked up an earpiece to access a translation and said: ‘Can you repeat?’
The reporter continued: ‘Recently, we noticed that you have gained weight. How are you dealing with this and what caused it?’
‘No, that’s not true. My weight has remained stable. I always work hard on my fitness and I think that’s the most important thing,’ a clearly unhappy Hazard replied.
Hazard has been accused of being overweight many times before, including during stints with Real Madrid and his long tenure with Chelsea in the English Premier League
While the line of questioning was controversial enough, Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad reported that the journalist had the gall to ask for a selfie with Hazard afterwards – and was flatly rejected.
‘I did indeed ask for a selfie with him. Because like I said, he is a big star. It would have been a nice keepsake for me. But he didn’t go into it. Just like with all the other journalists,’ the reporter told the publication.
A dejected Hazard leaves the pitch after Belgium lost 0-2 to Morocco in their group stage match in Doha
The reporter was not backing down on his question, either, saying it was a reasonable request.
‘Yes, I think he seems to have gained a bit more weight compared to Belgium’s practice match against Egypt. I wanted to know if there was a particular reason behind it and how he will change it. That’s why I asked the question,’ he said.
‘Was he angry when he had to answer it? Perhaps. But Eden Hazard is a big star in football. When he transferred to Real Madrid, everyone expected him to make a big impact. Only he was always injured.’
Hazard was further pressed on his fitness after picking up his most recent injury in early November.
‘I’ve played a good 62 minutes, but I think we can do better as a team. The physios and all the doctors help me to be ready for the next game,’ he said.
Hazard has attracted criticism over his weight on many occasions throughout his career.
Hazard of Belgium in action during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group F match between Belgium and Morocco at Al Thumama Stadium on November 27, 2022 in Doha
In 2020, he reported back to Real Madrid after the off-season five kilograms overweight.
‘It’s true, I cannot lie, if I’m on holiday, then I’m on holiday,’ he said at the time.
‘I put on five kilos in the summer. I’m one of those people who puts on weight very quickly then loses it very quickly.’
He was also reportedly out of shape prior to the 2015-2016 campaign with Chelsea.
‘I have had one bad year — the last six months under Mourinho and it was partially my own doing. After winning the title, we asked Mourinho for extra holidays,’ he said at the time.
‘I was totally out of shape at the start of the season, I remembered that lesson this summer  — four weeks after the World Cup, I was back in training at Chelsea.’
The most scathing criticism came from Jean-Marie Dedecker, the mayor of Middelkerke in the north of Belgium, who lashed Hazard over an incident from 11 years ago when he was photographed eating a burger during his time at Chelsea.
‘Actually, he is just a little fat man who has gotten fat by the system and the money,’ Dedecker said in January.
‘I can still see him flee when Georges Leekens replaced him and had a hamburger near King Baudouin Stadium.’
Speaking at this World Cup, Hazard said he had been forced to manage criticism his entire career.
‘When I started in Belgium I didn’t do very well either. Criticism doesn’t bother me, people talk and it’s part of football. I focus on the pitch,’ he said.
‘There will always be criticism. What I do is that I try to focus on what I do on the field to help my team and I will always give everything.
‘Injuries are part of the past. I just want to enjoy inside the field. Two years ago was a difficult period for me. Now I’m fine and I want to show that I’m a good player. The more I play in a row, the better I’ll be. That’s how it is.’