The employment tribunal in Eva Carneiro’s discrimination and constructive dismissal case started today, and there have already been some damning revelations about José Mourinho’s behavior.
Carneiro alleges that she was the target of sexist abuse and discrimination from Mourinho toward the end of her tenure there. The tipping point was Chelsea’s home match against Swansea last season, when Mourinho screamed at her while she tried to treat Eden Hazard for an injury. He then denigrated Carneiro in post-match comments to the press and then relieved her of first team duties the following week. Carneiro felt her position had become untenable and ultimately resigned.
In evidence submitted today by her lawyers, Carneiro offered more details on the Swansea game as well as other incidents.
Most notable— and, if true, absolutely deplorable— was testimony that Mourinho shouted “filha da puta” at her as she ran on to the pitch. That would be Portuguese for “daughter of a whore.”
Mourinho’s lawyers disputed that claim by insisting he wasn’t yelling at her specifically, and that he actually said “filho da puta,” which they said is not sexist per se and is roughly the Portuguese equivalent of “son of a bitch.” According to his lawyers, Mourinho used it frequently at Chelsea during games and training sessions as an expression of generalized frustration.
Mary O’Rourke QC, one of the lawyers representing Carneiro, wasn’t buying that. “As she ran on to the pitch she heard clearly from behind her the words ‘filha da puta.’ She’s a Portuguese speaker. It was not ‘filho da puta,’ it was ‘filha da puta’ … you say ‘filha da puta’ when you are denigrating a woman. He is saying it to the back of the claimant who is doing something he didn’t like … that is the context.”
Carneiro’s camp also submitted evidence of a previously unheard incident during a preseason game against Fiorentina. As she ran onto the pitch to treat an injury to a Chelsea player, Mourinho reportedly yelled, “Now we’re going to shit ourselves, Every time someone goes down with a head injury we’re going to shit ourselves.”
Carneiro also cited a number of other discrimination and hostile work environment issues related to her gender, from inappropriate comments from her colleagues to a failure by the club to meaningfully address incidents at Manchester United and West Ham where opposition fans chanted sexist abuse at her.
The evening of the Swansea game, Carneiro claims she received texts from club director Marina Granovskaia expressing sympathy without making promises of support. “People who know know you did nothing wrong. People who know José also know he is ranting.” Meanwhile, Mourinho reportedly told the club’s head of communications Steve Adkins that he didn’t want her near the first team. “She works in academy team or [ladies’] team not with me.”
A few weeks later, Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck informed Carneiro she would not be working with the first team any longer. Carneiro insisted she was just doing her job during the Swansea game and that she was fulfilling her obligations to the sport and to her profession as a doctor, but Buck wasn’t hearing it. She resigned shortly thereafter.
Meanwhile, lawyers for Mourinho and Chelsea have started laying the groundwork for their argument that Carneiro was derelict in her duties and was more concerned with her own profile than the club’s success.
The club claims that not only did she not make the allegations of discriminatory language until after she left Chelsea but that she offered to forget the whole thing for a huge pay raise and bonus agreement. They also claimed Carneiro had become increasingly focused on building her public profile at Chelsea’s expense, citing a number of examples from signing autographs to giving her own briefings to the press. Chelsea’s lawyers cited her decision to post on her Facebook page thanking her fans for their support, claiming that club officials specifically told her to stay off of social media.
Chelsea also claimed they offered her a settlement of £1.2 million to make the case go away, which she refused. Club lawyers told the tribunal that the settlement offer represented much more than “she could realistically recover even if she succeeded on all her claims.”
Yet comments from Carneiro’s camp suggest that this isn’t necessarily about the money. As Granovskaia reportedly said in her texts to Carneiro the night of the Swansea incident, “I don’t think there’s a salary that allows public attack.”