A week after Chelsea Manager, Jose Mourinho’s, public criticism of Team Doctor, Eva Cairnerio, the story very much rumbles on. And the longer it runs the more extreme, sexist and concerning it becomes.
So how did this all start?
During Chelsea’s match last Saturday against Swansea referee, Michael Oliver, signalled to Dr Carneiro to attend to midfielder, Eden Hazard, who was down on the pitch apparently injured.
In attending to Hazard and treating him, in the closing minutes of the game, provoked an explosive reaction from Mourinho. In post match interviews he stated that he “wasn’t happy” with his medical team, commenting that “even if you are a medical doctor or secretary on the bench, you have to understand the game. I was sure that Eden didn’t have a serious problem. He had a knock and was very tired. “
The loaded phrase “understanding the game” was unnecessary and provoked all sorts of sexist connotations. In a sector that is hugely dominated by men, it is a moot point whether or not such a phrase would have been used to describe the alleged mistake of a male doctor.
What is clear however is that Jose Mourinho is not a Doctor and did not have the medical knowledge to make the statement he did regarding the clinical condition of Hazard. It is fair to argue, as some have, that as far as the Manager appears to be concerned player welfare is secondary to the result of the game.
In representing professionals we at Thompsons too regularly see the huge gap in expectations between managers and professional responsibilities placed upon employees by their regulators. More often than not resulting in the employee being placed between a rock and hard place. Damned if they do and damned if they don’t. This would appear to be the position that Dr Carnerio found herself.
The referee during the match clearly signalled to the Chelsea medical team to enter the pitch. Whether or not Hazard was actually injured is pretty immaterial in the context of professional responsibility. Having been called onto the pitch Dr Carnerio had little option but to attend to, what she had no reason to believe was not, an injured player.
The General Medical Council guidance on duties of a Doctor are, “Make the care of your patient your first concern” front and centre.
Professional obligations work on the basis of “risk of harm”, actual harm is fairly irrelevant. Had Dr Carnerio not attended to Hazard, and it subsequently came to light that he was hurt and did require treatment, she would have faced misconduct allegations.
As the row has spiralled Mourinho is seemingly unrepentant. Dr Carnerio has been demoted, and stripped of her match day and training session duties with the team. She did not appear on the touchline in Sunday’s match against Manchester City.
The papers over the weekend have seen a myriad of stories seeking to discredit her most of which are based upon gender stereotypes and just downright sexism. The suggestion that the male players are uncomfortable with her presence, as a woman, in the dressing room due to the fact it requires them to modify their behaviour is plainly ludicrous.
In addition to that, we have the tabloids focusing on her love life with a kiss and tell from an ex- boyfriend.
Is any of this necessary in the context of a well qualified professional woman doing her job? It goes a long way to demonstrate the deep ingrained sexism that still exists within football and the lack of any real desire within the Premiership to tackle it.
And what for Dr Carneiro? It is clear that professionally she would appear to have done the right thing. Reports suggest that she is now seeking legal advice on her options regarding her ongoing employment. It may be possible for her to argue that she may have a case for constructive unfair dismissal should she chose to resign from her employment.
Mourniho’s outburst could be said to break the mutual bond of trust and confidence between employer and employee. However, should this be an option she wishes to pursue she will require to do so quickly as she will require to demonstrate that she did not delay in resigning after the perceived breach of contract.