Chelsea have suffered a major backlash over the decision to remove club doctor Eva Carneiro and physio Jon Fearn from the bench following criticism from manager Jose Mourinho.
The Blues boss complained Carneiro and Fearn had been “impulsive and naive” for rushing onto the field to treat stricken star Eden Hazard during Saturday’s 2-2 Premier League draw with Swansea.
Mourinho, who feared his team would be left a man short temporarily, insisted Hazard was not seriously hurt. Carneiro and Fearn’s roles are believed to have since been revised, with both removed from matches and training.
One football doctors’ group branded the move “unjust in the extreme” and another defended the pair’s actions, while a leading sports medic called Mourinho’s conduct “appalling”.
The Premier League Doctors’ Group, led by West Brom performance director Mark Gillett, said it considered that “removing Dr Eva Carneiro from the Chelsea team bench for their next match is unjust in the extreme”.
It added: “It is a huge concern that Dr Carneiro has been subjected to unprecedented media scrutiny and a change in her professional role, merely because she adhered to her code of professional conduct and did her job properly.”
Carneiro and Fearn ran on to treat Hazard in stoppage time after being beckoned by referee Michael Oliver, and the Football Medical Association said they were merely following correct protocol.
“Factors extraneous to the immediate medical needs of the patient (such as the stage and state of the game) cannot be part of their consideration at such time,” it said.
Liverpool’s former head of sports medicine and science, Peter Brukner, who now works as team doctor to the Australia cricket team, issued a scathing assessment of Mourinho’s reaction.
“To criticise the medical staff publicly in the way that he did was absolutely appalling behaviour,” Brukner said. “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.”
Carneiro, who was born in Gibraltar to a British mother and Spanish father, on Sunday used Facebook to thank the public for “overwhelming support” following Mourinho’s criticism.
Players’ union the PFA said referees and medical staff, not managers should decide if treatment is warranted, adding: “This protocol has worked successfully in past seasons and we can see no justifiable reason to move away from this.”
One of the few women in senior roles in English football, Carneiro, 41, joined Chelsea in 2009 and was promoted to first-team duties two years later by former Blues manager Andre Villas-Boas.