It was announced yesterday that Eva Carneiro, the Chelsea first team doctor, will not be allowed to sit on the bench during games after she ran onto the pitch in the final few moments of Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Swansea City.
It follows days of rumour and speculation in the press and on the internet after Jose Mourinho described his medical staff as “naive” and that they had to “understand” the game. Chelsea were chasing a winning goal at the time and Eden Hazard had fallen to floor injured.
The disruption left Chelsea with nine men on the pitch after Courtois’ red card- including Begovic, the second goalkeeper- with a set piece that could get some advantage to the team. Mourinho’s comments have, on the face of it, been read two ways: the first being a tactic typical of managers at the top of the game to deflect attention from his side’s failure to win, and the second as a personal attack on Carneiro herself.
Carneiro was promoted to the position as first-team doctor in 2011 by Andre Villas-Boas and has since been kept on by Roberto di Matteo, Rafael Benitez and Jose Mourinho. She has become famous by being one of the few women involved in professional football, and her attractiveness has earned her a cult status among supporters of all clubs. Carneiro’s apparent demotion appears to have united the bulk of football supports, Chelsea and non-Chelsea fans, in her defence, they believing that the two interpretations of Mourinho’s post-match comment mean the same thing-that the Portuguese couldn’t bear not winning the first match of the season, and so found someone to blame.
With the referee above reproach because of the obviousness of Thibaut Courtois’ red card, and with no great ill struck against his team from the opposition, the theory is that Mourinho found someone else to lay the blame at- the smiling, pretty, initiative taking team doctor.
It is an unfair accusation because nobody really knows the truth, and perhaps has more to do with the mob mentality of the internet than it does Jose Mourinho’s inability to accept responsibility for a poor result. Carneiro’s fandom is also a largely ignorant one, most apparently believe, or so the memes would have one believe, that she is the team’s physio as opposed to its doctor. They do not accept that Mourinho’s comments were mainly accurate, that in fact she should not have entered so fast onto the pitch and should have allowed the team to continue its pursuit of a winning goal. They also forget that she was not the only one to run on the pitch, and she was in fact joined by the team’s physiotherapist Jon Fearn, as well as that Mourinho did not mention her name when speaking to the media.
There is no doubt that Mourinho is sometimes guilty of not taking responsibility for his team’s defects, it is actually one of his many attributes, and that he can speak unfairly of some in public. This was such a case, but more irresponsible is Carneiro’s reaction, writing on social media to thank those supporting her, feeding into the media frenzy surrounding her position with the club and making Mourinho, the manager and her boss’, even more of a villain than he was before.
They all fail to mention that the Portuguese urged everyone at the club, medical staff included, to improve upon their efforts from last season to help Chelsea retain the league title, and did so many times throughout the summer. No link has been made between this apparent overhauling of the team’s match day therapy and the successive injuries suffered by Diego Costa, and the staff’s inability to cure him. No mention of other instances, ones that even we as reporters don’t know about, that may have led to this.
Where is the support for Jon Fearn? He too, as part of the medical staff, has been taken off the bench for next Sunday’s game against Manchester City, but there is no outcry in his favour. The lack of support for him only undermines the backing for Carneiro, and the general ignorance and collective amnesia only makes the condemnation of Mourinho shallow. In this case it appears that Carneiro’s gender is dictating the rhetoric, and one can only assume that barely a percentage of the ink and paper that has been spent on this topic would have been if she was a man.
Those that accuse Mourinho of being sexist are only being so themselves when they so vehemently support a woman without, for a start, knowing everything that has gone in the background, and offer up no such support for a man in exactly the same position. The reaction against Mourinho has been populist, naive and the ones perpetuating it are the real ones behaving appallingly. It would be wise to remember that Mourinho mentioned nobody by name, and that his criticism was in a purely professional context.
It isn’t yet clear who will replace Carneiro and Fearn at the Etihad, but the hope is from all Chelsea fans is that it will be the team getting the support and plaudits in the following week’s papers and not the team doctor.