Yet again I read with dismay, despair and disgust that an experts medical opinion and emergancy decision making is being second guessed, criticised and now punished by coaching staff in professional football, this time it’s Chelsea’s José Mourinho against his club doctor Eva Carneiro.
Carneiro is arguably the most well known doctor in professional football, heck probably in all sports. Not just because she works for a high profile club like Chelsea FC, but also because she is a very succesful and talented female doctor in a very male dominated profession. And of course because she is extremely good looking and attracts her fair share of the media spot light.
However Carneiro has made the headlines today due to being reportedly banned from the bench for all of Chelsea’s future matches by Mourinho after an incident last weekend.
This ‘incident’ was her simply doing her job, attending to a suspected injured player. It occured in the last few minutes of stoppage time with the game against Swansea drawn at 2-2. Carneiro and the club physio ran onto the pitch to assist Eden Hazard after he went down during a tackle, however Chelsea were already a player down due to a sending off and so by Carneiro attending and subsequently removing Hazard from play for a few minutes leaving them two men down, Mourinho told the media he thought it left Chelsea tactically disadvantaged and exposed.
This blaming, finger pointing and public flogging of medical staff by coaching staff over their decisions to attend to a player or not, or even remove them from play or not is becoming more and more common.
It needs to stop!
Simply put, medical staff have a job to do that supersedes any coaching job, ever.
End of discussion!
When did coaching or tactics, become more imortant than player welfare and safety? When did coaches decide what medically trained professionals can, or can not do? When did making high pressure snap judgements and erring on the side of caution get rewarded with critisim and scorn, rather than support and solidarity?
When you have personalities rather than professionals in charge thats how!
Having had some experience in the pressure of emergancy sideline work, I know its tough, really tough. Its 90+ minutes of mentally draining and emotionally exhausting work, trying to stay constantly aware of all the players all of the time, keeping an eye on the flow of the game and of course the emotion of the results.
Making a decision to run on, or not if you suspect a player is hurt is down to a lot of factors. First and foremost is the incident. Any head collision and/or if a player ‘stops and drops‘ thats it you’re on like a bullet, fuck the ref, fuck the coaching staff, but these are rare!
Then there are the ‘bone crunchers’ these are when you physically wince watching the tackle, you grab your bag and wait by the sidelines, these go either way, these are 50/50, these are tricky. However, more often than not its usually a simple knock or a innocuous tackle, your player rolls about looking highly distressed for 2.3 seconds then bounces up and makes a 25 metre max effort sprint when the ref waves play on.
What usually helps my decision to run on or not is knowing the player, some can take knocks and often bounce back without making a fuss, others not so, these are the softer lads who like a bit of drama and TLC.
It must also be remembered that in football it is also for the ref to decide if a physio should attend to a player or not, by stopping play and waving them on.
However, if I’m in doubt I would always err on the side of caution and run on, and yes, often I would get over to the player only to see him wink at me, or get up before I get to him, ask me for some water and run off… Bastard! Thats when you take the slow walk back, usually from the furthest corner from your dug out, thinking you prat, you should have known he was alright!
Now, I wouldn’t say Eva made a poor call in this fiasco. First the ref waved her and the physio on, which means they have to go, it’s the rules. Next, Hazard is not a soft lad, he is used to being kicked about and usually not known for ‘crumpling like a cheap suit’. I always remember the state of his shins during a match with Galatasaray last year (see picture below) so I think Eva was right to go to Hazard when he stayed down, it could of meant he was hurt.
He wasn’t, luckly for him, but not so for Eva. Now Mourinho publicly criticises her and removes her from the bench for all future matches. This is just not right. I wonder if Mourinho would have been as quick to commend or congratulate Eva if Hazard was seriously hurt? Or if he has criticised Hazard as much as he has Eva for leaving them exposed?
There really needs to be a shift in the culture of professional football around this. Professionals not personalities make the final descions on player welfare and safety, end of discussion.
This needs to be supported by us all, not just other healthcare professionals, but the public, the fans, and the media.
If personalities like Mourinho are lambasted and criticised more often about this kind of crap, then they may hopefully think twice before doing it again. The more up roar we can create, the more egg on the face we can give the personalities, it may mean the professionals can do their job (albeit with the odd over cautious decision now and then) without the fear of loosing their job.
So come on, lets support our medical staff more in the circus that is called professional sport.
As always thanks for reading