Commentary

Mourinho vs. Carneiro: Smoke and Mirrors?

As you’ve probably heard, there has been quite a kerfuffle surrounding Chelsea team doctor Eva Carneiro these last few days. It all started with the post-game comments following the Blues' 2-2 draw with Swansea on Sunday when coach Jose Mourinho -- apropos of nothing, mind you -- declared that he was unhappy with his medical staff, which is overseen by Carneiro, for entering the field of play and attending to midfielder Eden Hazard following a clash with Swansea’s Gylfi Sigurdsson.

Apparently, the Portuguese tactician was upset because Hazard was not injured enough to leave the field of play, which every player has to do once the medical staff comes onto to the field to administer treatment. At that point in the game, Chelsea was already reduced to 10 men following the sending-off of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, and with Hazard off too, Mourinho’s men were temporarily reduced to nine.

“I wasn’t happy with my medical staff because even if you are a medical doctor or secretary on the bench, you have to understand the game. If you go to the pitch to assist a player, then you must be sure that a player has a serious problem,” the Blues coach said after the game. “I was sure that Eden didn’t have a serious problem. He had a knock and was very tired.” He continued: “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.”

Following the press conference, there was an outpouring of support for Carneiro via social media. Later on Sunday, the Chelsea doctor responded in kind with the following Facebook post: "I would like to thank the general public for their overwhelming support. Really very much appreciated."

Two days later, reports across England claimed that Carneiro, who has been with Chelsea since 2009, has been demoted -- or, at the very least, she has seen her role greatly reduced. The Telegraph claims that though she will remain doctor of the first team, she will no longer be able to sit on the bench during games, attend practice sessions or be at the team hotel before games. Asked to comment on this news, Chelsea declined, saying it would not comment on an “internal staffing matter.”

Since, Mourinho and Chelsea have been accused of sexism, among other things. In a widely-cited interview with talkSPORT, Peter Brukner, the former head of Liverpool’s sports medicine department, gives a particularly scathing analysis of Mourinho’s behavior:

"The medical staff deserve a public apology, and I'm very disappointed the club hasn't come out and done something to support them -- they were just doing their job…He [Mourinho] has a player [Hazard] who has gone down, has remained down and the referee [Michael Oliver] considered it serious enough to summon the doctor and physio. They went on as they must do, and as a result the player had to come off the field. What do you expect the doctor to do, just ignore the referee beckoning them on? They were only responding to the referee's instruction to come and a treat the player, so to criticize the medical staff publicly in the way that he did was absolutely appalling behavior."

Meanwhile, the Independent notes that the fact that Oliver waived the medical staff onto the field twice is a powerful piece of evidence on Carneiro’s behalf: “Under the General Medical Council good medical practice guidelines, Carneiro would have been obliged to enter the pitch when referee Oliver called her on -- regardless of whether Mourinho wanted her to treat the player or not. Ignoring that request would put her in breach of one of the GMC’s first tenets under the ‘safety and quality’ responsibilities.”

So, what in the world are Mourinho and Chelsea up to here? Really, it’s impossible to know, but Mourinho-watchers will note that what the Portuguese says publicly is all-too-often a sideshow -- that is, a means of distracting attention away from the performance of his team. Indeed, Chelsea did not look convincing against Swansea on Sunday, and Mourinho knows it, even if he didn’t admit it publicly.

OK, but does that mean that Carneiro should be sacrificed here? Absolutely not. Off The Post doubts very much that Carneiro is merely a sacrificial offering to the press. Something must have happened that we may never hear about until Carneiro decides to write an autobiography that made Mourinho and/or Chelsea want to get rid of her, something much bigger than what happened on Sunday. The Portuguese was obviously looking for an excuse to get her fired and/or demoted and he chose this occasion.

Unfortunately for him, per the Independent, Carneiro and her staff did nothing wrong at all -- in fact, it would have been wrong had she not entered to the field to attend to her player.

It could be that Mourinho, who fancies himself a master at massaging the press, might have backed himself into a corner with this one. It will be interesting to see what happens. 

6 comments about "Mourinho vs. Carneiro: Smoke and Mirrors?".
  1. Kyr-Roger St.-Denis, August 12, 2015 at 10:16 p.m.

    It is as inappropriate for Soccer America to speculate about such matters as it was for Mourinho to make his comments to the press in the first place.

  2. uffe gustafsson, August 12, 2015 at 10:25 p.m.

    You kidding me, it's off the post job to report these things. I think mourinho stepped in a dog pile this time and big backlash is coming to him.
    Not that he cares. He just love the media attention and knows how to steer away the focus of bad performance to something else.
    Blaming the doctor is just plain bad.

  3. Chester Grant, August 13, 2015 at 6:48 a.m.

    Maybe what has been missed:
    - players often feign injury near the end of a game to disrupt the flow of the game, particularly when their team is at risk of losing and they have already used all their substitutes (the standard timewaster)
    ...so understated perhaps is that Mourinho knew that Hazard was just faking injury.

  4. Santiago 1314 replied, August 13, 2015 at 4:57 p.m.

    I'll bet the Ref thought Hazard was Milking it too...So the Ref knew that if the Medical staff came On, then Hazard would have to go Off and He(the Ref) would show Chelsea, who was Boss...That is why he called them on Twice...

  5. Kyr-Roger St.-Denis, August 13, 2015 at 9:26 a.m.

    That sounds reasonable, and may be right. But it was still inappropriate for Mourinho to comment as he did to the press; that sort of criticism belongs in his office in a private conversation. If he's had such a conversation before and still has an issue with the med staff, it belongs in Abramovich's office in a private conversation. All of this little controversy, including my own comments, belongs somewhere outside the public consciousness.

  6. ROBERT BOND, August 13, 2015 at 10:07 a.m.

    name anyone else that showed females work in english football? i told a kids parents to get an x-ray, the coach told them to tape it & take advil-it was broken.....just bring back the sponge & bucket.....

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