It all started when Jose Mourinho responded to Rafa Benitez’s wife’s comments about her husband cleaning up Mourinho’s past messes. He didn’t challenge her assertions, or counter what was probably an incorrect opinion from her, based upon actual facts. Nope, Mourinho dragged the conflict immediately in the gutter and told her to get back into the kitchen where she shouldn’t have ever left, to focus on keeping Rafa from getting any huskier than he believes he is these days.
Because, you see, when you’re Jose Mourinho and you’ve been given the longest leash in all of England the past decade by the media, you think this is a clever comeback. You think pointing out that since she’s a woman who’s married, she should don an apron and get familiar with her low-fat, diet recipe books that’s neatly stacked within reaching distance to her vacuum and feather duster. Just grin for the scribes that are recording every soundbite and internally screaming "WORLDSTAR!!!" with each insult delivered by The Special One.
Which brings us to these last few days, this time regarding Chelsea doctor Eva Carneiro, whom we’ve been reminded isn’t in charge of much at Chelsea besides doing doctor work on matchdays and some other stuff behind the scenes that we’re obviously not aware of.
Dr. Carneiro is reportedly being dropped from the bench due to her treatment of Eden Hazard in the final moments of last weekend’s draw at home versus Swansea City.
This isn’t a pulpit to say that Jose Mourinho’s a sexist. I think the man has many flaws, but I don’t have enough grounded, factual information to say he’s definitely a misogynist. What we do, as a collective, have is a conflict between the statements that Chelsea have made in the past and the actions taken against Dr. Carneiro this week. Dr. Carneiro’s position as a woman in a man’s game has been the subject of sexist abuse in the very recent past, enough to the point that Chelsea went out of their way to condemn any and all mistreatment and abuse towards women in general, let alone a doctor on their staff. It’s fair to say that Dr. Carneiro’s very aware of the abuse she’s received in the past which has bled into the vitriol her way this week. This awareness and clear understanding of the circumstances led her to comment publicly on Facebook. It wasn’t a breakdown of her version of events, or her providing a list of excuses. It was simply this:
"I would like to thank the general public for their overwhelming support. Really very much appreciated."
That, apparently, was enough to warrant Mourinho and the club to demote her from her touchline duties. While Dr. Jon Fearn, the male doctor that followed Dr. Carneiro onto the pitch, is now reportedly being axed two days after her initial removal from the bench, perhaps as a cover against allegations of sexism, this is where both Mourinho and the club are tone-deaf and, at worst, contradicting their prior stance against sexism.
Intentional or not, both Mourinho and the club should have had a modicum of awareness surrounding the obstacles she’s had to maneuver in this sport as a female doctor for one of the biggest clubs in the world. Fans, as they’re wont to do, act irrationally. It’s fair to say that the chants seen and heard in the link above are just the tip of the iceberg that Dr. Carneiro’s had to endure in her position at Chelsea. Just take a look at this sample Google search. Hell, her looks have been brought up in our past comment sections; I’d hate to do a similar search at our SB Nation Chelsea blog.
In other words, she’s not viewed by a chunk of our population as a doctor capable of treating injuries and doing her job correctly so much as some sort of sex symbol in the sport they love and follow. The gulf between these two only widens when people like Jose Mourinho react angrily at her apparent indiscretions, but also in negative post-match comments about their actions. The fans who are predisposed to view her by her gender and looks first don’t view her in any further favorable light when the manager discredits her professional actions. The male doctor who ran out on the pitch with her doesn’t have to worry about hordes of female fans searching his name with the words "hot" or sexy" behind it. He’s already viewed through the correct lens.
Dr. Carneiro didn’t go on Facebook to thank her supporters just to have her say. There’s a very strong likelihood that she had to go on a platform of her choosing to say those two sentences because there’s a very strong likelihood that irrational fanboys of Chelsea and Jose Mourinho bought into the post-match criticism and had their target pinned down and ready to dismantle. The sex symbol acting like a doctor in the sport of soccer who instead belongs in the kitchen and making sure the players have a regimented diet of vegetables and chicken. This makes the decision to axe her from the bench immediately after she published her Facebook comments all the more appalling.
I don’t believe for a millisecond that Jose Mourinho views her as a sex symbol, or a female who doesn’t understand her role in the male-dominated club. But given his lack of public understanding how his comments towards Maria de Montserrat Benitez could be perceived as anything but sexist, I also don’t believe Mourinho has any understanding about how the action to axe Dr. Carneiro due to her behavior in last weekend’s match following her Facebook comments of gratitude towards her supporters can be anything but sexist, as well. This has been a massive exercise in failure of self-awareness on the club’s and Jose Mourinho’s part, and if they ever decide to wake up, realize what they’ve said in the past, and take a look at the factors that led everyone involved to where they’re at now, Dr. Carneiro would rightfully regain her place back on the bench.
That is, if she ever allows that second chance with Chelsea to happen.