Let me just start by saying that I like Jose Mourinho, there are times he does foolish things that are cringeworthy at best. However, when he’s not playing the sulky, picked on manager during press conferences he’s actually a nice and genuine guy.
He is fond of saying that the press always want to talk about things other than upcoming matches or how injured players are getting on and to some degree he is right. This time he’s created his own media circus and now he needs to back down.
If you’re into football then you will surely be aware of the touch-line spat that took place between Jose Mourinho and first team doctor Eva Carneiro in the dying moments of the 2-2 draw with Swansea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday 8th August.
Chelsea were already playing with ten men after goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was sent of in the 52nd minute for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity. Chelsea were 2-1 up at that point and Swansea were now awarded a penalty which Bafetimbi Gomis scored with ease a few moments later making the score, and eventual result, 2-2. It would be fair to say that Mourinho was probably in a fairly bad mood from the moment referee Michael Oliver raised the red card that reduced his team to ten men.
Then in the dying stages of the match Chelsea’s Eden Hazard went down clutching his leg. Michael Oliver approached the writhing player and spoke with him, then signalling for the medical staff to come on. This did not happen immediately so he signalled again and Eva Carneiro ran on with first team physiotherapist Jon Fearn. All seems fine so far, we’d all expect that to happen. However, return to the touch-line and we find Mourinho is irate to the point where, if it could happen, we’d have seen steam coming out his ears. He was jumping about, shouting, swearing, doing his raving nana.
As his medical staff had gone onto the pitch to treat Hazard he would have to leave the field of play for a few seconds, as we know, before he can return to the play himself. This so enraged Mourinho because for seconds he was down to nine men. None of us like to play with nine men, or even ten, but Mourinho took exception to the rule and when Carneiro returned to the touch-line she got what for from the manager. He allegedly called her some names. Fair play to Carneiro, she gave him some lip back. Mourinho then started on Jon Fearn who completely ignored him.
In his post-match interview he called Carneiro and Fearn “naive” and continued to be unhappy with his bench medical team. He was fairly sure Hazard wasn’t injured and blasted the duo for attending to him.
Post match interview (this should go straight to 2:23 so fingers crossed):
Mourinho had calmed down by the time of the post-match interview but had created a storm. The media frenzy was to be expected but it wasn’t going his way. If the player and referee agree that the player needs medical assistance then the manager really has no say. Would Mourinho have gone into such a hissy fit had Hazard swallowed his tongue or been knocked unconscious? The answer is no. Mourinho didn’t even believe Hazard was injured, he believed he was just tired had taken a little knock. Poor judgement call there from Mourinho himself.
In the hours after Carneiro received many messages of support to which she took to Facebook on Sunday evening, to thank those people.
Would that be an end? Would Mourinho apologise? Um, no. He doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong and further to berating his first team doctor and physio he now seems to have demoted them both. During the week it emerged that Carneiro and Fearn would have no place on the bench and would work from Cobham, the clubs training ground.
The incident on Sunday and the apparent demotion of the duo caused an uproar on social media and within professional groups.
The Premier League Doctors Group made a statement printed widely within the media:
The reaction to Carneiro’s demotion has been strong, with the Premier League Doctors’ Group expressing concern that Mourinho’s actions showed that he considers results to be more important than the welfare of players.
“Dr Carneiro has universal and total support from her medical colleagues at the Premier League Doctors’ Group,” they said, in a statement. “It is also of great concern that at a time when the both the Premier League and the Premier League Doctors’ Group are intensifying efforts to safeguard player welfare, the precedent set by this incident demonstrates that the medical care of players appears to be secondary to the result of the game.
“The Premier League Doctors’ Group considers that removing Dr Carneiro from the Chelsea team bench for their next match is unjust in the extreme. In the publicised incident in last Saturday’s game against Swansea, the Chelsea medical staff were clearly summoned on to the field of play by the match referee to attend to a player. A refusal to run on to the pitch would have breached the duty of care required of the medical team to their patient.
“It is a huge concern that Dr Carneiro has been subjected to unprecedented media scrutiny and a change in her professional role, merely because she adhered to her code of professional conduct and did her job properly.”
The Football Medical Association also made a statement released by their CEO Eamonn Salmon:
CEO, Eamonn Salmon, releases the following statement regarding the recent incident with Chelsea FC’s Doctor.
If a player sustains or appears to sustain an injury and indicates that he needs assistance, it is the duty of the referee to permit medical assessment and evaluation to be provided.
“At that moment the player becomes a patient of the medical team and it is the duty and obligation of Club medical staff to attend to that patient accordingly and without prejudice to the interests of anyone else including the Club employing them.
The Football Medical Association fully supports the actions of our members and colleagues in this incident who acted with integrity and professionalism at all times, fully cognisant of the rules of the game and in full accordance with that duty of care to their patient.
“Factors extraneous to the immediate medical needs of the patient (such as the stage and state of the game) cannot be part of their consideration at such time”
The British Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine (BASEM) also released a statement in which they backed the Premier League Doctors Group:
The British Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine supports the stance taken by Premier League Doctors Group in regard to events at Chelsea FC. Nothing takes precedence over the health and wellbeing of athletes and whoever decides a player needs help, medical staff have an absolute obligation to fully assess the athlete until satisfied they are fit to continue participation. All those involved in Football have a moral obligation to assist medical staff to the best of their ability to minimise any risk of serious harm to players.
A full review of the events last weekend is essential to avoid any unnecessary risk to players in the future.
Of course, not wanting to get involved but still commenting on it, Arsene Wenger has his say:
“It is a problem inside the club that if you are not united it is more difficult. It is the trust and unity that makes the strength,” he said.
He seems to have backed down a little but it’s too late for that. He knew the rules and decided to ignore them and now the pressure is on him. He should show his better side and apologise to Eva Carneiro and to Jon Fearn, in private if needs be, though I doubt the relationship with them will ever be the same again. He criticised two medical professionals for doing their job, they are bound my morals and ethics to treat the player as well, he has no say in whether they can go onto the pitch, if the referee has indicated medical attention is needed the manager cannot dispute that.
Indeed, FIFA posted today a list of questions and answers on this very subject. The questions were answered by FIFA’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Jiri Dvorak who points out that the medical team don’t always have to be summoned by the referee if they suspect someone has gone down with a head injury or suspected cardiac arrest.
Basically the incident was a mistake from the highly frustrated Mourinho and it has happened and he can’t make that go away. Professional bodies have pointed out his error, the media have come down heavily on him. If he can’t admit his error and do what’s right then he should hope that Roman Abramovich is in a good mood. The owner is known for not liking negative attention on the club.
For the sake of all club doctors and physios, but particularly Carneiro and Fearn, Jose should apologise and end this sorry mess.