Belfast Telegraph

Why Mourinho was wrong to stick the boot into female physio Eva

By Jane Graham

Such a shame about Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho. For those of us women who enjoy watching football, his dashing presence on the front bench has long been a compensation for the swarm of frowning sweaty cornbeef-faced galumphs in lumpy flammable leisurewear we're usually confronted with on Match of the Day.

There he stands, his tousled salt-and-pepper hair tousled in the breeze, his top button undone under his tie with Sinatra-like effortless cool, his brooding Heathcliffian eyebrows knitted in (what looks like) intelligent thought.

Lately, though, the Heathcliff comparison has proved a little too accurate. Yes, Heathcliff is sexy, but he's also hot-tempered, egotistical and ruthless when things aren't going well.

And, as Chelsea's team doctor Eva Carneiro - one of the very few women in such a role within football - found out this month, Jose can be equally brutal and petty.

Carneiro is a brave sort. She has a fantastic poker face, which she plasters on every time she's treated to a chorus of "Get your t*** out for the lads" at matches. That's a lot of times.

I often wonder if any of the chaps demanding she flash her breasts are standing next to their sister, mother, wife, or daughter. If so, do they apologise in advance - "Close your ears, sweet pea, I'm just going to indulge in some harmless banter for a minute?" Or does self-consciousness strike them afterwards: "Sorry you had to hear that, my darling, I got carried away." Or perhaps they just feel their loved ones should grin and bear it, or sit somewhere else.

Carneiro has borne it at Chelsea for six years now and worked successfully throughout. But when she and the team physiotherapist ran onto the pitch to tend to the injured Eden Hazard - after being called over repeatedly by the referee - she faced an onslaught of verbal rage from Mourinho on her return.

The move had left 10-man Chelsea vulnerable to a Swansea attack while Hazard was taken out of play. Mourinho later stated that his medical team had been "naive" and didn't "understand the game".

Carneiro has a degree in sports medicine and completed her thesis with West Ham before working with GB athletes for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

She might not look like the average Premiership doctor - ie, a man - but she is neither naive nor confused by football. Her conduct was standard and sensible, and has not been criticised by a single other person in the game.

But within days of Mourinho's outburst, she was banned from attending matches. This week, she was expected to return to a humiliatingly demoted role at the club.

It would have been the worst possible message for professional women looking to get involved in the sport at a senior level if she had agreed. Fortunately, Carneiro is made of sterner stuff and she resigned instead.

I love football, but as it becomes the last refuge of the racist, the homophobe and the misogynist, my heart feels heavier and heavier. It had been inspiring - the unusual sight of a woman rushing out onto the pitch to fix broken players at Chelsea, as deft in her work as she was tenacious in her determination not to be disheartened by the prehistoric attitude of the mob around her.

Mourinho should have been proud of what looked like a progressive outlook from his club. Instead, mean-spirited in the midst of a Chelsea slump, he has cast out a shining role model, who says 90% of her mail is from "young women wanting to perform the same role".

Well, they won't want to perform it for Jose any more. And it's his loss.

This is a match made in heaven

There are few things as gratifying in drama as a wholly believable happy love affair.

Since they were introduced in the original 2006 Shane Meadows film, This is England, gorgeous whipsmart Lol (Vicky McClure) and big-hearted, generous Woody (Joe Gilgun) have had their crises and their victories, but the tender moments which have continued between them in the TV follow-ups have been so touching, and so authentic, it's hard to believe they're not a real couple.

For me, the current series has cemented their place as the best fictional couple British film, or TV, has created in the last decade. They could convert the devil to love.

Funding can help bridge this gap

I felt for the ambassadors of bridge who had to schlepp around radio studios this week pretending to believe that the genteel card games is actually a sport.

Seeking official recognition of their favourite pastime's sporting status, they championed its benefit to "brain health" and claimed it required physical fitness to concentrate on it. Balderdash, of course, and they knew it. But they need funding and to get it, they have to be a sport.

The real argument is: why should a game which challenges the brain and helps to stave off dementia have to be proved a sport before it gets funded?

What's so ruddy superior about sport?

Belfast Telegraph

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