In Good Conscience

Mourinho, Kyrgios share a warped view that they can shape society

Nick Kyrgios (above).
Nick Kyrgios (above).PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

What do Jose Mourinho and Nick Kyrgios have in common?

They are sexist, arrogant and self-centred to the point of believing that society must conform to their behaviour, rather than the other way around.

Mourinho thinks that being a winner means he can do or say whatever he likes - and alas, his many followers in the media laud him for that, even when the winning is ugly.

Kyrgios isn't - yet - a winner of anything other than one Australian Open junior title two years ago. But he has all the shots, and all the disrespect for codes of conduct that, in itself, attract a certain following as if he were the Che Guevara of the courts.

Maybe both are what they think they are, and this columnist is a dinosaur clinging to boring old etiquette that has had its day.

Kyrgios isn't - yet - a winner of anything other than one Australian Open junior title two years ago. But he has all the shots, and all the disrespect for codes of conduct that, in itself, attracts a certain following as if he were the Che Guevara of the courts.

However, here is my take on the public outbursts from Messrs Mourinho and Kyrgios.

The Chelsea manager, of course, has been down this path before. In 2006, he accused Reading player Stephen Hunt of trying to "kill" Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech. The 'keeper rushed out of his goal, slid on rain-saturated turf, and his head collided with Hunt's knee.

Two players, as I saw it from the stand, going for the ball without thought of self-preservation.

The outcome was a fractured skull that, indeed, could have been deadly. We, above ground, knew nothing of the drama inside the dressing room. It emerged that Chelsea's team doctor, Bryan English, did not think the accident had caused serious damage and did not call for an ambulance until Cech's condition deteriorated alarmingly.

Surgery saved Cech, but Mourinho, perhaps because he spoke before he knew the facts, accused the ambulance service of dereliction of duty.

The evidence concerning the time of the emergency call, the response and the evacuation to hospital, showed that Mourinho had been at best mistaken.

Yet he refused to withdraw his accusations. He is Mourinho, he is right, whatever he does or says.

Fast forward to last Saturday. His Chelsea, expected to routinely beat Swansea, a team against whom they hit nine goals last season, were being outmanned and outplayed by the Swans at Stamford Bridge.

The game may have swung on goalie Thibaut Courtois being red carded after rushing off his line and bringing down Bafetimbi Gomis.

Mourinho's rage hid a multitude of Chelsea wrongs. The midfield was outplayed, the defence slow to cope with a Swansea side that bravely committed to the front foot from the start.

He erupted near the end when Eden Hazard went down clutching his stomach. The Chelsea physiotherapist Jon Fearn, followed by the club doctor, Eva Carneiro, rushed to give first aid.

That is their job, their instinct, and their right once the referee has signalled a need for urgent attention. Mourinho was by now raging. He shouted abuse, which we now know included calling Dr Carneiro "filha de puta" (daughter of a whore in Portuguese).

Spur of the moment, emotional stuff? Probably, but Mourinho doesn't admit to being wrong.

He carried the argument forward on TV by accusing his medical staff of naivety. He knew that Hazard wasn't sufficiently injured to require treatment, and by rushing to him, the doctor and the physio had betrayed the manager because that risked Chelsea being reduced for a few seconds to playing with another man short.

It sounded like another of his diversionary tactics to divert attention from Courtois, and from the sluggish team performance the day after Mourinho accepted a four-year extension to his contract.

Things escalated when media and medical experts raised alarms about managers putting points ahead of player safety. It needed Mourinho to back down and say he acted in the heat of the moment.

But Mourinho doesn't do apologies. Dr Carneiro was removed from her duties on the bench and at training - not sacked, but severely undermined.

Apparently, he was in a foul mood before this season kicked off. I'm guessing that he feels his authority was weakened when Roman Abramovich gave permission for Arsenal to sign Petr Cech, despite Mourinho stating that he would not let the goalie go to a rival club.

Being overruled by the boss, but taking it out on the team doctor, suggests that Mourinho is not only a bully, but an unstable one.

He is 52, old enough to know better. Kyrgios is 20, and maybe needs to be cut a bit of slack. He is allowed to be flashy when he knocks Rafael Nadal out of Wimbledon, as he did last year. And it may seem to be a breath of fresh air when he plays to the gallery and showboats.

But nothing excuses bad-mouthing Stan Wawrinka on Wednesday, saying that an Aussie pal of his had sex with Wawrinka's girlfriend. Actually, Kyrgios put it more crudely than I care to repeat. The subsequent US$12,500 (S$17,500) fine looks about as effective as tickling a rhino's backside with a feather duster.

Kyrgios is a multi-millionaire, endorsed by Yonex, Beats, Bonds, Nike and, from his mother's homeland, Malaysia Airlines.

He won't respect authority while he is paid so handsomely for being the bad boy of tennis. And he is unlikely to fulfil his talent while he disrespects both the conventions of his game, and his opponents.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2015, with the headline 'Mourinho, Kyrgios share a warped view that they can shape society'. Print Edition | Subscribe