The FA has come under fierce attack from one of its own board members for its “seriously disappointing” handling of the case of former Chelsea team doctor Eva Carneiro.
Heather Rabbatts, an independent board member and the head of the FA’s inclusion advisory board, said she had “major concerns” regarding the FA’s disciplinary process in the case.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was cleared by the FA on Wednesday of making discriminatory comments towards Carneiro. It has emerged that the FA made no attempt to interview Carneiro or even ask for a witness statement.
Rabbatts said in a statement to Press Association Sport: “The FA’s reaction to the treatment of Dr Eva Carneiro has been seriously disappointing. I have major concerns over the way in which the disciplinary process has been conducted and the lack of an organisational response to the wider issues raised by this case.
“We had an announcement late yesterday relating to a high-profile incident which occurred on August 8 and yet it would appear that during that time no witnesses were requested to speak to the FA, including Dr Carneiro, and in the course of the investigation some media were reporting it was likely that no charge was to be brought.”
Rabbatts added: “This is on top of a previous case when clear evidence of sexist and abusive chanting from groups of supporters against Dr Carneiro was apparently not seen as sufficient for a charge to be raised.”
Carneiro was dropped from first team duties after an incident on the opening day of the season when she and physio Jon Hearn were criticised by Mourinho for going on to the pitch to treat Eden Hazard. She has since parted company with Chelsea.
Rabbatts is unhappy about the lack of support across football for Carneiro, who was also the target of sexist abuse from opposing fans.
She said: “A highly respected medic, a woman at the top of her profession in football, has been mistreated, undermined, verbally abused and yet no-one apart from Dr Carneiro has faced significant consequences.
“In addition, the demotion of Dr Carneiro and her subsequent departure from Chelsea FC raises important issues which the club, the FA , the Premier League, the PFA and the LMA need to address.
“It is my view that the lack of support given to her as a medic and as a woman has resulted in her removal from the game. This is not only a personal tragedy but is a setback for player welfare and sends a terrible message to other medics and all those girls and women who aspire to play a role at the top level of professional football.
“I have shared these views with senior colleagues at the FA and hope that by speaking out all parties involved will be encouraged to take steps to support Dr Carneiro and ensure that real and serious lessons are learned for the future. ”
The Football Medical Association (FMA), the body which has been liaising with Carneiro, called into question the decision not to interview the doctor.
FMA chief executive Eamonn Salmon also said expert opinion on the words used by Mourinho was divided.
Salmon said: “As expert opinion would appear to be divided regarding the video evidence and content matter, the FMA is surprised that Dr Carneiro was not interviewed as part of the investigative process.”
The FA said on Wednesday an independent academic expert in Portuguese linguistics had analysed footage of the incident, and announced it ”is satisfied that the words used do not constitute discriminatory language under FA Rules”.
It is understood that because the complaint was not made by Carneiro herself she was not called as a witness by the FA regulation team.
The campaign group Women in Football said it was “appalled” by the FA’s decision to take no action against Mourinho, claiming their own language expert said abusive words used by the Chelsea manager were specifically directed towards a woman.