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Why Jose Mourinho is to blame in the Eva Carneiro fallout at Chelsea

In the wake of Carneiro's demotion from the first team and training ground, Mourinho and Chelsea should be held accountable.

Eva Carneiro Jose Mourinho Chelsea
Chelsea’s medical staff Eva Carneiro and Jon Fearn rushed to Eden Hazard’s aid much to Jose Mourinho’s displeasure

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has stirred another debate off the field, but this time it has nothing to do with rival managers, match officials or even his own players. It has to do with his first team medical staff. Club doctor Eva Carneiro has reportedly been demoted from the Chelsea bench and will no longer be involved with the first team at matches or the training ground at Cobham.

Why? Because she was only doing her job? In the Blues’ Premier League draw with Swansea at Stamford Bridge, 10-man Chelsea (they had lost goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to a straight red card earlier in the second half) were momentarily reduced to nine men when a Gylfi Sigurdsson tackle brought down Eden Hazard. 

As it was during the final minutes of a game evenly poised at 2-2, Mourinho was vehemently against the Belgian being treated by the medical staff. According to the rules, if a player is treated on the pitch, it states that he must go to the touchline – whether the injury sustained (if at all) is serious or not. The player must then wait for play to be restarted and then come on only after the referee waves him on.

Mourinho loses his temper at medical staff

Video footage shows Mourinho absolutely livid on the touchline when Carneiro and head physiotherapist Jon Fearn rushed to treat Hazard, who was still lying prone on the pitch following the tackle. Visibly furious, Mourinho had even stepped out of his technical area and on to the pitch, glaring at his medical staff for reducing the number of his outfield players to eight during a tense period when Swansea could have scored a winner if they had launched a counter-attack.

"I was unhappy with my medical staff. They were impulsive and naive,” Mourinho had said.

"Whether you are a kit man, doctor or secretary on the bench you have to understand the game.

"You have to know you have one player less and to assist a player you must be sure he has a serious problem. I was sure Eden did not have a serious problem. He had a knock. He was tired."

“My medical department left me with eight fit (outfield) players in a counter-attack after a set-piece and we were worried we didn't have enough players left!”

Why Mourinho was wrong and Carneiro was right

However, the Portuguese boss needs to take another look at the rules and the scenario before asking the club to take the big decision to remove Carneiro from first team duties. 

Firstly, a member of the medical staff – be it doctors or physiotherapists – may not enter the field of play unless called upon by the referee. But after Hazard was brought down, referee Michael Oliver himself had signaled the bench to treat the midfielder – twice! 

Had Carneiro ignored the referee, she would have landed herself in a great deal of trouble with the General Medical Council (GMC). Every doctor and physiotherapist in the Premier League is a registered medical practitioner who is licensed to practice by this council. Refusing to treat Hazard would have violated their principles and shown her as neglecting her responsibility for the safety of players.

Eva Carneiro Jon Fearn Eden Hazard Jose Mourinho Chelsea
Eva Carneiro and Jon Fearn came on to treat Eden Hazard only after referee Michael Oliver signaled them to come on

The GMC’s handbook‘s ‘safety and quality’ section requires doctors to “take prompt action if you think that patient safety, dignity or comfort is being compromised”. In this case, both Fearn and Carneiro put the player’s safety above the manager’s needs – which was the right thing to do.

Even the chief executive of the Football Medical Association, Eamonn Salmon, supported the medical staff saying, “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,” as reported by The Guardian.

So no matter what Mourinho thinks and no matter what the situation is during the match, he has absolutely no say in what the medical staff can or cannot do and how they go about doing their jobs.

Why is only Carneiro punished and who is to blame?

According to reports on ESPN, only Carneiro has been demoted while physiotherapist Fearn, who was the first person to run on to the pitch, has been retained. Chelsea had refused to comment on Carneiro’s role and labeled it an "internal staffing matter" that they were not required to disclose to the public. Who takes over her duties when Chelsea travel to the Etihad remains to be seen as the rules require a club doctor to be present at all times. 

So who should shoulder the blame for the entire fiasco? The first choice for Mourinho would be the referee – Michael Oliver. But he, too, was only doing his job as Hazard did not immediately recover after the challenge.

Then does he blame Hazard for simulation? To put things in perspective, it was a foul on Hazard and it was Chelsea’s ball anyway. They were also pressing for a winner and not exactly letting the clock wind down. Moreover, Hazard never asked for the physio to come on, a trait common with most footballers who go to ground, clutching their leg while waving their arm. 

Eva Carneiro Chelsea
Eva Carneiro joined Chelsea in 2009 and has been with the first team since 2011

Mourinho and the club can point fingers at nobody but themselves for the fallout. If Mourinho had let it slide after the game, nobody would have made such a big meal of it. Managers do lose their cool in high-pressure situations, especially when their team are the defending champions of the Premier League.

Fans from all over have also sent Carneiro messages of support and she had even thanked them on her official Facebook account. It might have been what ultimately brought about the demotion, but in no way was it a retaliation to Mourinho’s comments as most people are led to believe. She has every right to respond to her fans and members of the medical community, especially after doing the right thing.

But for Mourinho to bring up the incident in post-match interviews (three separate interviews, to be precise) seems like nothing more than smoke and mirrors to deflect attention away from his team’s shortcomings in the new season. And it has come at the cost of a doctor who was only doing her duty.


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