Local physios say Chelsea medics did no wrong

LionsXII physiotherapist Nurhafizah Sujad performing acupuncture on then skipper Shahril Ishak during training back in 2013.
LionsXII physiotherapist Nurhafizah Sujad performing acupuncture on then skipper Shahril Ishak during training back in 2013.THE NEW PAPER FILE PHOTO

Chelsea team doctor Eva Carneiro has been teased, quizzed, criticised and people still see her as a novelty as she is the English Premier League's first woman team doctor.

The British woman has been in the spotlight this week after she was publicly lambasted by Blues manager Jose Mourinho during the side's 2-2 draw with Swansea.

As she watched the controversy unfold, LionsXII and current national football team physiotherapist Nurhafizah Sujad could relate to Carneiro's situation and felt sorry for her fellow professional.

"The main priority is the player's safety. If a player is injured, and the referee calls on the medical staff to come on, then you have to go on," said Nurhafizah, 33.

"If the player is really injured, it is my responsibility to run onto the pitch. I don't think Eva did anything wrong in rushing on."

REF'S THE ONE IN CHARGE

As a coach, I want my player to be okay, that is important. But the referee is the one who is calling the shots and you have to listen to what he says.''

NAZRI NASIR LionsXII assistant coach, on the referee's decision being final

When asked about how she would assess the situation, Nurhafizah said that she would have taken the same route as Carneiro. "At that point, Jose probably did not want his side to be disadvantaged by losing another player but in that situation, I wouldn't really stop to assess because what springs to mind is the player's safety."

It has since been confirmed that Carneiro and physiotherapist Jon Fearn will not be on the bench during the Blues' encounter with Manchester City tomorrow.

LionsXII assistant coach Nazri Nasir believes referees should be entrusted with the call to wave the physios onto the pitch.

"As a coach, I want my player to be okay, that is important," he said.

"But the referee is the one who is calling the shots and you have to listen to what he says.

"If the referee instructs a medical staff to come on and treat the player, can a coach really say 'no'?

"Mourinho reacted that way because he did not want his side to be further disadvantaged (by losing another player temporarily) but at the end of the day, the physios had a job to do and they acted on the referee's instructions."

Yeo Hwee Koon, the Lions' physiotherapist from 2004-2011, also voiced her support for Carneiro, saying: "Until a physio assesses a player and makes the call that the player is fit or not, the coaches or the staff cannot assume that he is fit to play on or that he is not seriously injured."

She, however, felt that Carneiro could have avoided Mourinho's wrath with her social media post thanking fans for supporting her throughout the saga. "At the end of the day, I feel that the matter should have been strictly sorted out internally," she added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2015, with the headline 'Local physios say Chelsea medics did no wrong'. Print Edition | Subscribe