Referees and Injury Treatment

Against Swansea, Jose Mourinho’s shocked many with his blatant anger towards Chelsea’s club doctor, Eva Carneivo and club physio, John Fern, for treating Eden Hazard on the field of play. He knew Hazard would have to go off after treatment, if only for short time and with a player already sent off, Chelsea would be reduced to nine men for that period.

What the Laws of the Game say about injuries and what referees are expected to do, is not always the same thing?

The first mention in the Laws says ‘the referee stops the match if, in his opinion the player is seriously injured and ensures that he is removed from the field of play. An injured player may only return to the field of play after the math has restarted.’ Referees, in the guidelines, are instructed to question an injured player. If the player requests treatment, ‘the referee may then authorise one, or at the most, two doctors to enter the field of play to assess the injury and arrange the player’s safe and swift removal from the field of play’.

At Chelsea, the referee observed these guidelines. With the game stopped, he asked Hazard if he wanted treatment which he did, so he called on the doctor and physio. But now we see a deviation from what the law demands. The Law’s guidelines say that a player is not allowed to receive treatment on the field of play. ‘The player must leave the field of play, either on a stretcher or on foot. If he doesn’t comply he must be cautioned for unsporting behaviour’.

This just doesn’t happen of course. Instead, referees are forced into a compromise. Players are treated on the pitch but then made to leave, with certain exceptions such as goalkeepers.

Many think that’s ridiculous but the referee has no choice. Nor, I would suggest do the club medics when a referee calls them on. Except perhaps, if your boss is Jose Mourinho, who’s obviously willing to sacrifice a player’s well-being for a possible momentary benefit.

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