Former Chelsea doctor Eva Carneiro admits she is still hurt by her row with Jose Mourinho – but it has only strengthened her push for greater equality in football.
Carneiro found herself involuntarily thrust into the limelight in August 2015 when Mourinho berated her for running onto the pitch to treat Eden Hazard during Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Swansea.
Mourinho did not consider the injury serious enough to force the Blues to briefly play with nine men in the closing stages of the game, having already had a man sent off – but it became clear Carneiro was only doing her job.
The incident forced her to leave Stamford Bridge six weeks later – and the ugliness that followed dominated many front pages.
“It’s impossible to go through something that I went through for the best part of a year of my life and not be changed by it,” Carneiro told Women’s Football Weekly on talkSPORT 2.
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“But it hasn’t put me off at all.
“It’s fair to say I needed time off, I needed to enjoy my job again and be a doctor again without the complications of being in the limelight.
“I was in every paper in every country for a really long time and I wasn’t at all comfortable with that.
“Certain individuals in football wanted to treat me like I did something wrong, when it was clear I was only doing my job.
“I recently came across that Martin Luther King quote: ‘We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends’ – that’s what still hurts.
“In football, whether it’s racism, child abuse, athlete safeguarding and respect for the medical treatment – a change of culture is needed to change the things which are ugly about it.”
Prior to the Mourinho row, Carneiro was subject to sexist chants at matches and crude jokes on social media about her appearance.
As one of the first women with such a high-profile job in the men’s game, she admits too much of her energy was spent on such unnecessary things.
However, she hopes her experience can pave the way for more women to be comfortable working in football.
She added: “I spent an incredible amount of energy trying to fit in and I wish that was spent just trying to carry on with my job.
“You’re constantly fazed by the ‘wisdom’ of individuals, males, who say you shouldn’t do this and that because nobody will take you seriously.
“My energy should’ve been focused on what I was achieving because it was a dream job. I pictured myself at Champions League finals with Lionel Messi nodding at me from the edge of the tunnel.
“Chelsea fans are always expressing respect and admiration for the job I did, which fills me with happiness.
“They saw the work I did and they’re not concentrating on things that were embarrassing or completely unwanted.
“I was one of the first – and we just have to normalise this conversation. It’s going to happen, there are good female doctors and we need a balance.
“Diversity works in any environment so let’s just normalise it. It’s 2020, let’s get over this.”