Chelsea F.C., the defending Premier League champions, have gotten off to a rough start to the new season, first playing Swansea to an opening-match draw and now find themselves in the middle of a scandal, dubbed Evagate by some, surrounding their female team doctor.
Eva Carneiro, has been demoted from her duties as Chelsea team doctor after she angered team manager Jose Mourinho for entering the field to tend to an injured player late in the match against Swansea. Carneiro will no longer attend games or training sessions and she will not accompany the team when they stay in hotels prior to matches.
The incident occurred in the third minute of injury time with the score tied 2-2 and Chelsea playing a man down with just ten players. Chelsea’s Eden Hazard was fouled hard on a counter-attack.
Hazard went down hard and appeared to be injured. While replays did not show it, reports say the referee “beckoned to the bench” for somebody to come tend to Hazard. Carneiro and head physiotherapist Jon Fearne quickly entered the playing area and went to Hazard who at least appeared to be in a great deal of pain.
By entering the field to treat Hazard, the player was then required to leave the field until the referee deemed an appropriate time for him to return. This left Chelsea two players short in the closing minutes.
Mourinho was immediately incensed and could be seen screaming obscenities on the sideline. When Carneiro returned to the sideline, Mourinho was livid and berated both Carneiro and Fearne.
After the match, Mourinho expressed his frustration, accusing Carneiro of not understanding the game.
“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,” Mourinho told the media. “If you go to the pitch to assist a player, then you must be sure that a player has a serious problem. I was sure that Eden didn’t have a serious problem. He had a knock and was very tired.”
However, according to One World Sports, Mourinho already had reservations about Carneiro’s role with the team and how she may have made players uncomfortable in the locker room, specifically because she is female.
“Mourinho is said to have held reservations about Carneiro’s role within the first-team squad since at least last year. While there is no question about her professional abilities, the Portuguese coach was concerned that the dressing room dynamic was affected by the presence of a female. According to a source, some players had expressed misgivings to the coaching staff about the set-up, arguing that it forced them to alter their usual behaviour in a team environment. Famous for his attention to detail, Mourinho has always sought to eliminate factors that might reduce his team’s likelihood to win matches.”
Complicating matters for Chelsea and Mourinho is how they dealt with Fearne, who not only tended to the player with Carneiro, but he was actually the first one to cross the line into the field of play. Fearne was not demoted and it appears the has not been disciplined for his role.
After the match, Carneiro posted a message to Facebook thanking the public for their support. According to David Hytner, this was viewed as a sign of disloyalty and “sealed her demotion.”
A statement from the Premier League Doctors’ Group supported Carneiro, saying “the medics were clearly summoned by the referees to attend to Hazard. Refusing to go would have breached the doctor’s duty to a patient,” according to The Guardian.
The group went as far as to demand an apology from the team.
“The medical staff deserve a public apology and I’m very disappointed that the club hasn’t come out and done something to support them; they were just doing their job,” said the group in a statement.
So far, Chelsea is standing firm behind their decision to demote the doctor, but this scandal is not going away anytime soon. Soccer is already facing a concussion crisis for how they tend to injured players and now it appears a doctor is being reprimanded for doing just that and being female may have played a role.
We have reached out to Chelsea F.C. for comment and will update when we hear back.
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