Chelsea were back under siege again last night as they were hit by the double blow of Diego Costa receiving a three-game ban for violent conduct and the news that team doctor Eva Carneiro had decided to leave the club and is considering legal action against the champions for constructive dismissal.
The striker will now miss tonight’s Capital One Cup third-round tie against Walsall and the Premier League matches away to Newcastle United and at home to Southampton, while Chelsea could have longer-term problems with the possibility of a drawn-out legal case.
Chelsea had until 6pm to respond to a Football Association charge against Costa for the incident with Laurent Koscielny in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Arsenal, and it was at that point their problems became even greater than the absence of last season’s controversial top scorer.
First of all, it emerged that Carneiro had decided to leave the club, having not appeared at work since 8 August. That was the day that she ran on to the pitch with head physiotherapist Jon Fearn in the 2-2 draw against Swansea City to treat an injured Eden Hazard, to the very public frustration of the manager Jose Mourinho, who criticised both on three separate occasions in the media.
Carneiro thereafter had her team duties significantly reduced – being told she was not to attend matches or enter the team hotel – and, despite being told to return to work last Friday, it is understood she has not been seen at the Cobham training ground.
Sources also state she has already sought legal advice from top firms about suing Chelsea for constructive dismissal. The club meanwhile continued their stance of refusing to discuss the issue, stating they “can’t comment on internal staffing matters”.
FA board member Heather Rabbatts – who is also chair of the FA’s inclusion advisory board – released a statement in defence of Carneiro and critical of Chelsea.
“News of Dr Eva Carneiro’s departure from Chelsea FC makes me feel sadness and anger,” said Rabbatts. “Eva was one of the few very senior women in the game, a highly respected doctor who has acted with professional integrity in difficult circumstances and whose skills have been highly praised by her colleagues, the club and governing bodies. In acting properly she was then subject to verbal abuse and public criticism and in effect demoted by her removal from the bench.
“Her departure raises a serious question on how players are safeguarded if their medical support is compromised. In addition, as Chair of the Inclusion Advisory Board, I have a responsibility to support women in the game and Eva has been a role model for many girls and women who aspire to work in football. Her treatment sends all the wrong messages.”
Shortly afterwards, the FA released a statement which read: “An FA charge against Diego Costa for violent conduct not seen by the match officials but caught on video has been found proven following an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing. The Chelsea forward will, therefore, serve the standard penalty of a three-match suspension with immediate effect.”
It is understood that Costa had contested the charge and sources state that Chelsea had been worried any punishment might be influenced by the highly public TV coverage of the incident, in which the striker grabbed Koscielny’s face – something that referee Mike Dean did not witness.
The club later released a brief statement expressing their dissatisfaction with the outcome, saying: “We are extremely disappointed with the FA Regulatory Commission’s decision to suspend Diego Costa. We will await their written reasons before commenting further.”
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