First Person: Jose Mourinho, Eva Carneiro and the deeply masculinist culture of football

Posted by ap507 at Aug 25, 2015 10:05 AM |
John Williams discusses issues of sexism still permeating football
First Person: Jose Mourinho, Eva Carneiro and the deeply masculinist culture of football

Source: Leicester Mercury; Chelsea's team doctor Eva Carneiro

Think: Leicester does not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Leicester - it expresses the independent views and opinions of the academic who has authored the piece. If you do not agree with the opinions expressed, and you are a doctoral student/academic at the University of Leicester, you may write a counter opinion for Think: Leicester and send to

Surely, Kasabian-loving, two-wins City manager Claudio Ranieri ought to have been making the early running in the national Premier League news stakes?

No, not at all. In fact, it's been that shy, retiring Jose Mourinho who has been hogging the media headlines again. Just in case you strayed off Planet Football for a few seconds – what were you doing btw? – let me briefly fill you in with the detail.

On kick-off day, Chelsea, already down to 10-men and drawing at home to Swansea City, suffered a late injury to key man Eden Hazard. The referee waved on the Chelsea medical staff, team doctor Eva Carneiro and head physiotherapist Jon Fearn, who immediately rushed to Hazard's aid. Cue a rather amusing Mourinho touchline anger dance.

Why so? Well, providing treatment meant that a clearly fit Hazard would now have to leave the pitch. With Chelsea lacking their star man and down to nine men there was little or no chance of snatching a winning goal.

After the match, Mourinho was still visibly furious with his "impulsive and naive" medical staff. "Whether you are a kit man, doctor or secretary on the bench," he fumed, "you have to understand the game." He immediately banned Carneiro and Fearn from the Chelsea touchline.

This simple case actually raises a number of important issues and principles for the wider game. First, should club medical staff now be routinely schooled to distinguish between strategically faked player "injuries" and the real thing?

Secondly, should they simply ignore the referee and possible player harm and instead (like the manager) chase the points at all costs as part of their job? And, thirdly, was that Mourinho jibe about naivety and lack of "understanding" of the game actually a sly piece of casual sexism aimed at Dr. Carneiro?

Without doubt Chelsea have been progressive among Premier League clubs in appointing Carneiro: she was once rejected on the grounds of her sex from a placement at Manchester United. Predictably, too, she has suffered tabloid kiss-and-tell stories following her very public dressing down. The sporting medical fraternity has since come to the defence of the Chelsea medics and a slightly chastened Mourinho now says he will consider returning Carneiro and Fearn to the bench at some point.

Medical and sporting ethics, the absolute power of the manager in professional football and, not least, the deeply masculinist culture of elite professional sport are all at issue here.

When the Chelsea medics instinctively ran on the pitch to deal with a stricken colleague on day one of the new season, little did they know that they were opening up a can of worms that the game will have some difficulty in squeezing back from where they came.

John Williams is senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Leicester


Share this page: