Doctor Eva Carneiro has today agreed a settlement fee with Chelsea Football Club over her constructive dismissal case against her former club, as well as agreeing to drop sex discrimination and harassment charges against the West London club’s former manager José Mourinho.
Mourinho was angered on the opening day of last season when the doctor, along with the club physio Jon Fearn, ran onto the pitch to treat the apparently injured Eden Hazard after the match referee, Michael Oliver, had requested them to do so. It meant that Chelsea were temporarily reduced to nine men, with the Thibaut Courtois having already been sent off earlier in the game against Swansea. It eventually finished 2-2.
Speaking after the match Mourinho had 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. My medical department left me with eight fit outfield players in a counter attack after a set piece and we were worried we didn’t have enough players left”. The reference to a ‘secretary’ was believed to be a sexist remark by many.
The incident happened in at the start of August 2015 and by September the 23rd Carneiro had decided that she was unable to return to the club to work under the Portuguese manager, instead pursuing a claim of constructive dismissal against the then defending Premier League champions as well as a personal case against the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ over her treatment of her. This was in spite of the fact that an investigation by the Football Association had cleared Mourinho of any wrongdoing.
The tribunal proper began yesterday, with both sets of lawyers presenting their skeleton arguments for the trial. A lot of it appeared as if it would hinge on the Portuguese words Mourinho used when Carneiro ran onto the pitch, with the doctor claiming he said filha de puta’, meaning daughter of a whore, and the manager himself saying it was ‘filho de puta’, which is son of a whore and a common Portuguese expletive.
Mourinho wasn’t expected to show up at the trial until later in the proceedings, so when he arrived at the tribunal today it led some to speculate that the club might indeed be hoping to settle with Carneiro before it all began. The tribunal’s start was delayed until 2.30pm after Mourinho, Bruce Buck and Marina Granovskaia all turned up at the venue. At 2.40pm journalists were informed that there might be an update on the proceedings, but by 3pm there was still no word with confirmation of the settlement not coming out until just before 3.30pm.
Carneiro, who was born in Gibraltar and has a Spanish father and an English mother, went to Nottingham University to study medicine before spending two years at the Australasian College of Sports Physicians and then going to Queen Mary University in London to complete an MSc in Sport & Exercise.
The doctor released a statement after the settlement was confirmed that said, “I am relieved that today we have been able to conclude this tribunal case. It has been an extremely difficult and distressing time for me and my family and I now look forward to moving forward with my life. My priority has always been the health and safety of the players and fulfilling my duty of care as a doctor. In running onto the pitch to treat a player, who requested medical attention, I was following the rules of the game and fulfilling my medical responsibilities. I would like to thank everyone who has supported me including my husband, family and friends and members of the football community”.
Chelsea, meanwhile, put a statement of their own on the club’s official website. It read, “The club regrets the circumstances which led to Dr Carneiro leaving the club and apologises unreservedly to her and her family for the distress caused. We wish to place on record that in running onto the pitch Dr Carneiro was following both the rules of the game and fulfilling her responsibility to the players as a doctor, putting their safety first. Dr Carneiro has always put the interests of the club’s players first. Dr Carneiro is a highly competent and professional sports doctor. She was a valued member of the club’s medical team and we wish her every success in her future career. José Mourinho also thanks Dr Carneiro for the excellent and dedicated support she provided as First Team Doctor and he wishes her a successful career”.
The tribunal was expected to last for the best part of two weeks and it was almost certainly going to involve the revelation of potentially embarrassing statements, emails and texts sent between Chelsea’s hierarchy in the wake of the incident last August. Daniel Stilitz QC, representing Chelsea, ended any speculation over what may or may not have been revealed by telling the tribunal, “We are pleased to be able to tell the tribunal that the parties agreed a settlement on confidential terms”.
The ‘confidential terms’ part of the settlement means that we are unlikely to ever find out exactly how much Carneiro was persuaded to settle for. Yesterday, however, it was revealed that she had turned down an offer of £1.2 million in order to settle the claim. That fact, combined with the conciliatory language used in Chelsea’s statement, suggests the final settlement figure is likely to be significantly more than £1.2 million.
José Mourinho was tight-lipped when he left the tribunal, ignoring the press as he was escorted to a waiting BMW. He refused to answer as he was asked, “Are you sorry? Why didn’t you apologise?”. The Portuguese manager has been appointed as the new Manchester United manager and will now be able to focus on his new career at Old Trafford.