Belfast Telegraph

Football chiefs have to show they are serious on injury prevention - Carneiro

Former Chelsea doctor Eva Carneiro has claimed that football is ignoring its duty of care and cannot treat players like modern-day gladiators or as worthless lives "thrown to the lions".

Carneiro left Chelsea in 2015 after she was publicly criticised and verbally abused by Jose Mourinho for treating Eden Hazard on the pitch, against Mourinho's wishes, in a game at Stamford Bridge against Swansea in August of that year.

Chelsea later reached a £5million settlement with their former first-team doctor, who dropped her claim of constructive dismissal against the club and sex discrimination against Mourinho.

She says a job in football could tempt her back, if it has all the right ingredients, but Carneiro fears football does not take player welfare seriously enough.

In an interview with French newspaper L'Equipe, she said: "Football's governing bodies, the Premier League among them, have recognised the need to have doctors at clubs, notably for legal reasons in case there wasn't a doctor on the pitch. They remain all the same quiet when the doctors have been prevented from carrying out their work or confronted by someone who isn't qualified to take a medical decision.

"They can't remain silent on this point. Footballers can't be modern-day gladiators, they can't be thrown to the lions in the name of entertainment. Whatever the price for their life, their career and their future.

"Unfortunately, the governing bodies, the Premier League and even the players' unions have stayed silent on this point. This has short-term consequences, in the sense of putting careers and lives in danger, but also in the long term, when players will call into question their employers and the governing bodies for not ensuring their safety. You would think the recent examples in the NFL would do it, but it seems they believe the litigation culture isn't about to happen to European football."

Her comments were published on the day it emerged the FA and Professional Footballers' Association are close to announcing the launch of a new study into a possible link between heading the ball and brain injuries.

Carneiro also believes men's football remains a difficult environment for any woman to work within, even though she sees players as more welcoming than ever.

She said: "It is fair to underline that the environment is hostile to women. The number of times I was told I wouldn't be able to embrace this profession, or even that I should not ... always men. But young generations of footballers are different, an egalitarian environment seems more natural to them.

"Giving managerial positions to women in football would surely help. Women on boards of directors, and without needing to be supported by men. Today's football has a bad reputation not only on this question of sexism, but also more widely in its openness to diversity."

Carneiro says she still works with footballers, but cited confidentiality issues in her interview as leaving her unable to comment further in that regard.

And she said it took her a long time after events at Chelsea to be able to look at football through the same passionate eyes she previously saw the game.

"If I'm honest, I needed almost a year to be able to watch a football match," she said.

Looking to the future, and a possible return to football, Carneiro said: "Yes, I've had offers from England and abroad, very generous, but they came at a bad time or they weren't, without wanting to disrespect anyone, of the type that would excite me. To go back to that job, every part of me would have to be passionate about the project. I lost some illusions about football. It doesn't seem to want to learn from its mistakes, and that really tarnishes the game we all love."

The Football Association and the Premier League declined to respond to Carneiro's comments, and Press Association Sport has contacted the Professional Footballers' Association.

FA chief executive Martin Glenn spoke on the issue at the Soccerex convention in November 2015, during which he said: "We work to a FIFA mandate on medical support. The duty of the doctor is to the player, not the employer. It is the Hippocratic oath."

The Premier League board commissioned a review of medical protocols around head injuries during the 2013/14 season, with clubs agreeing to new guidelines for the following season - prior to Carneiro's departure from Chelsea.

Premier League director of football Mike Foster said at the time: "Player safety is paramount in all sports and the Premier League has a strong track record of introducing new medical rules and provisions as top-level football has evolved and new challenges emerged.

"The medical working group that we set up to look into concussion and serious head injury protocols included valuable contributions from the Premier League Club Doctors' Group, the FA medical team, the LMA (League Managers Association) and PFA, and other sports, including rugby union and horse racing."

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