The Eva Caneiro Story

Laura Harray gives the whole low-down

Football fans all over England will have heard of the ongoing court case regarding Chelsea doctor Eva Carneiro. Previously an integral member of the Chelsea medical team, Carneiro was stripped of her first-team duties after running onto the pitch during a match against Swansea to treat striker Eden Hazard, apparently without manager Mourinho’s permission. Six weeks later, the doctor has left the club and is now suing for constructive dismissal, as well as launching a case for victimisation against Mourinho.

The event occurred on 8 August, late in the Chelsea game versus Swansea, when Hazard went down injured. Already reduced to ten men by a red card, the team would be left with only nine men if the striker was taken off for treatment. Under guidelines from the Premier League Doctors’ Group, if either the injured player or the referee calls for treatment, the club’s medical team is required to acquiesce to this. If not, they would be breaching their duty of care to the injured player and would be liable for prosecution for tortious negligence. Video evidence shows referee Michael Oliver requesting medical treatment for Hazard, so Carneiro seems justified in entering the pitch to tend to him. However, Mourinho seemed to disagree with this decision and he later called Carneiro ‘impulsive and naïve’ for leaving the team with nine men at a critical stage in the game to take the Hazard off for treatment. He has received some limited support from other managers for this reaction, but the reduction of Carneiro’s duties at the club has received an overwhelmingly negative response.

Carneiro is now suing for constructive dismissal, which occurs when an employee resigns as a result of a hostile work environment created by the employer. If the doctor can prove she was lawful in treating Eden Hazard, then she can cite that the removal of her duties were unjust and were instrumental in her subsequent resignation. If this is proved, Mourinho may also be liable for damages for victimisation, the inappropriate treatment of an individual because they have made a complaint. Given the referee is shown to have called Carneiro onto the pitch to treat Hazard, this seems to be a relatively open-and-shut case. However, it is unlikely that the club will risk an expensive lawsuit by taking the case to court, and may instead prefer to settle with Carneiro. Mourinho on the other hand is expected to appear in an employment tribunal early next year.

The case is ongoing and is not expected to reach its conclusion any time soon. There is one major point, however, that seems to have been left out of the event’s extensive media coverage – did Hazard actually require treatment? If not, why has Mourinho not criticised his player for needlessly reducing the team to nine men? And if Hazard was in need of medical attention, why did Mourinho not seem to care? Whatever the outcome of the case, Mourinho’s management of his staff has been called into disrepute and the club’s woeful performance in the Premier League so far may mean change isn’t far away.

Laura Harray VI