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Heather Rabbatts backs former Chelsea doctor Eva Carneiro to return to football

Published 04/10/2015

Former Chelsea team doctor Eva Carneiro
Former Chelsea team doctor Eva Carneiro

Former Chelsea doctor Eva Carneiro will one day return to football, according to Football Association board member Heather Rabbatts.

Carneiro left her role with the Blues following a clash with manager Jose Mourinho after she and physio Jon Hearn ran on to treat Eden Hazard late in the draw with Swansea on August 8.

Mourinho, who is under pressure following a terrible start to the season for the Blues, was told on Wednesday he would face no action over allegations he made discriminatory comments towards Carneiro.

The medic released a statement saying she had not been called on to make a statement during the investigation and Rabbatts, an independent board member and the head of the FA's inclusion advisory board, declared herself "seriously disappointed" with the FA's handling of the case.

Nevertheless, she does not believe Carneiro will simply walk away from the game.

"I have spoken to her in the last few days," Rabbatts told BBC Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek programme.

"She felt she had support and it's very important, as you can imagine this is a terrible time for her.

"Up until August 8 she was one of the most highly respected medics in her profession and at the moment she is out of the game she's loved. I hope, with all of us learning lessons around these issues, that she will come back to the game in future.

"I can't go into what her ambitions and aspirations are but I know how much she loved her job and cares for the players. Becoming a highly-qualified doctor takes years of training, she was years at Chelsea, and I'm sure she doesn't want to be lost to the game.

"And we don't want to lose her from the game. There are so few women in these professions that when people like her leave the game, it's a real loss to so many other women and girls who aspire to play a role."

Rabbatts also stressed the importance of medical staff being able to carry out their duties unhindered, and that the 'passion' inherent in football is no excuse for any use of discriminatory language.

"As I said in my statement, I was disappointed by how it was handled and I hope there are lessons for the future in how these very significant issues that affect the whole game are tackled," she said.

"There is something broader here. There must be really enforceable guidance so that no medic feels there can be any interference when they are called onto the field of play.

"Remember, Dr Eva Carneiro did nothing wrong - in fact, if she had not gone onto the field of play, she would have been in breach of her own (General Medical Council) guidance.

"We love the game for the strong passions but when that tips over into abusing somebody, ridiculing them, referencing them as a 'secretary', I do not believe that's acceptable."

Mourinho did not specifically refer to Carneiro as a secretary and Rabbatts was referring to his press conference after the Swansea game, when he said: "I wasn't happy with my medical staff because even if you are a kit man, a medical doctor or a secretary on the bench you have to understand the game."

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