Chelsea apologised “unreservedly” to former team doctor Eva Carneiro after her case for constructive dismissal was settled privately on Wednesday.
The settlement — the terms of which will remain private — was announced in front of the watching Jose Mourinho, as well as Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck and director Marina Granovskaia following a delay of over 90 minutes to Tuesday’s session, which was due to see Carneiro cross-examined by Chelsea’s QC Dan Stilitz on her witness statement, the details of which were to be disclosed publicly for the first time.
Carneiro took her case to an employment tribunal, heard at a court in Croydon throughout this week, alleging constructive dismissal against Chelsea and victimisation and discrimination against former manager Mourinho.
Mourinho branded her and head physio Jon Fearn “impulsive and naive” for entering the Stamford Bridge pitch to treat Eden Hazard in the closing stages of the Blues’ 2-2 draw with Swansea City in August.
Tellingly, however, Chelsea’s statement did not include a public apology from Mourinho to Carneiro, despite the fact that her barrister Mary O’Rourke QC insisted that her client was demanding this ahead of a private meeting in March.
The statement issued by Chelsea read: “Chelsea Football Club is pleased to announce that it has reached an agreement with Dr Carneiro which brings her employment tribunal proceedings against the club and Jose Mourinho to an end.
“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.
“Jose Mourinho also thanks Dr Carneiro for the excellent and dedicated support she provided as First Team Doctor and he wishes her a successful career.”
Mourinho remained tight-lipped as he left. He was escorted by security guards through crowds of the media as well as excited schoolchildren chanting “Jose, Jose.”
He was bundled into a waiting black BMW and refused to answer when asked: “Are you sorry? Why didn’t you apologise?”
A statement released by Carneiro’s legal team read: “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.”
Carneiro and Fearn were demoted from first-team duties in the wake of the incident, and Carneiro left Chelsea in September before initiating separate but connected legal proceedings against the club and Mourinho in November. Fearn remained at the club and returned to the Stamford Bridge bench for Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with West Ham in March.
Private hearings between representatives of Carneiro, Chelsea and Mourinho took place in January and March at London South Employment Tribunal in Croydon but, with no settlement reached, the case went to a full public employment tribunal at the same venue.
The case was expected to last seven to 10 days and could have led to potentially embarrassing witness statements and documents — including texts and emails — being made public.
It was revealed earlier this week that Carneiro had turned down an “open offer of £1.2 million” to settle her claims.
Information from Chelsea correspondent Liam Twomey was used in this report.