A leading medical barrister expects FIFA to reinforce its support of the role of medical staff in treating players in the wake of the Eva Carneiro saga at Chelsea.
On Friday the world governing body’s medical committee will discuss the matter after Carneiro and head physio Jon Fearn were catapulted into the spotlight when they were criticised by manager Jose Mourinho for rushing on to the pitch to treat Eden Hazard in the opening match of the Barclays Premier League season, leaving the team with just nine players.
As a result Carneiro and Fearn’s roles have been downgraded but Mary O’Rouke QC believes the pair were completely in the right and expects FIFA to back them up this week.
Although she said Mourinho was in the wrong, O’Rourke does not expect an apology from the Portuguese but believes he should reinstate his medical staff to their previous positions.
“I personally believe, as a football supporter and as someone who supports medics in sport, the best outcome in this case would be for her (Carneiro) and John Fearn to be back on the bench sending the message out to the football world they did nothing wrong,” she said.
“I think you will find FIFA on Friday saying the same thing that they did nothing wrong because their duty was to the player as their patient, the referee, the FA and actually their job in the club is to look after the players not to run the team and not to be tactically aware.
“Much though one understands the passion of the manager or coach you (as a medical professional) have to prioritise the player because, apart from anything else, if a player sues he doesn’t sue the manager he sues the doctor, physio or the club.
“No-one wants to hang anyone out to dry here. If you start making someone do public apologies or losing face that can impact on a future working relationship and surely what Chelsea and other football medics would want would be to patch it up.”
O’Rourke was less enamoured by some of Mourinho’s other post-match comments when he said “I wasn’t happy with my medical staff because even if you are a medical doctor or secretary on the bench, you have to understand the game”.
Mystery still surrounds the exact duties Carneiro now undertakes at the club but Press Association Sport understands the 41-year-old qualified doctor, is consulting lawyers about her situation.
O’Rourke, who in 2006 successfully defended a consultant surgeon when West Brom attempted to claim damages after a failed knee reconstruction operation which ended Michael Appleton’s career, insists Carneiro taking legal instruction does not mean she will be suing Chelsea in the future.
“You don’t just engage a lawyer to go to court , you engage them to give you your legal rights whether it be to return to work or negotiate a new deal or contract,” said the barrister, speaking at the Soccerex convention in Manchester.
“You put yourself into their position: they must be in their dream jobs so would you want to lose that job?”