LONDON (AFP) - Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was at the eye of a storm on Thursday as criticism mounted over reports he has sidelined the Premier League champions' team doctor Eva Carneiro.
British media reports claim Carneiro will no longer attend matches or training sessions after Mourinho lambasted her and physiotherapist Jon Fearn for running on to the pitch to treat Eden Hazard during the latter stages of last weekend's 2-2 draw at home to Swansea City, which temporarily reduced Chelsea to nine players.
The outspoken Mourinho, who said that Carneiro and Fearn had been "impulsive and naive", has received widespread criticism, with Liverpool's former head of sports medicine Peter Brukner branding his behaviour "absolutely appalling".
In a statement on Thursday, the Premier League Doctors' Group described Carneiro's reported demotion as "unjust in the extreme".
The body said that, with Carneiro having been summoned onto the pitch by the match referee, "refusal to run onto the pitch would have breached the duty of care required of the medical team to their patient".
It added: "It is a huge concern that Dr Carneiro has been subjected to unprecedented media scrutiny and a change in her professional role, merely because she adhered to her code of professional conduct and did her job properly."
A lawyer specialising in employment law has warned that Carneiro could have a case to sue the club for constructive dismissal.
Nick Wilcox from employment firm Brahams Dutt Badrick French told The Guardian that Chelsea's conduct appeared to have been "heavy-handed" and "disproportionate".
He said: "This does look like an arguable case for constructive dismissal. That is the territory you would be investigating as a lawyer if you were acting for her."
Chelsea and Mourinho are yet to comment on reports that Carneiro's role has changed, but he is expected to address the media at his weekly press conference on Friday.
Chelsea were down to 10 men against Swansea following the dismissal of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and were briefly left with nine players as Hazard was obliged to leave the field after receiving treatment.
Mourinho felt that Hazard had not been sufficiently injured to warrant treatment and said that although referee Michael Oliver had waved them on, Carneiro and Fearn's actions showed that they did not "understand the game".
Carneiro, 41, thanked people for their support in the aftermath of the incident, writing on Facebook on Sunday: "I would like to thank the general public for their overwhelming support. Really very much appreciated."
Reports emerged on Tuesday that her role would be changing, but that she would be keeping her position as first-team doctor.
Carneiro, born in Gibraltar to a Spanish father and English mother, joined Chelsea in February 2009 and was promoted to the role of first-team doctor and assistant medical director by Andre Villas-Boas, one of Mourinho's predecessors, in 2011.
The chief executive of the Football Medical Association, which represents all medical personnel in the English professional game, said that Carneiro had been correct not to factor in the status of the match when she went to Hazard's aid.
"Factors extraneous to the immediate medical needs of the patient, such as the stage and state of the game, cannot be part of their consideration at such time," said Eamonn Salmon.
Former Arsenal and England centre-back Martin Keown said Mourinho's actions were "indefensible" and suggested his conduct could be explained by "nervousness" at Chelsea due to their underwhelming start to the season.
Football Association director and former England women's footballer Kelly Simmons, meanwhile, expressed hope that the row would not deter women from working in football.
"Hopefully, what's happened in the last 48 hours won't put off young women wanting to work in what is a fantastic industry," she said.
Carneiro previously hit the news in March this year when footage emerged of her being targeted by sexist chanting during games against Manchester United and Arsenal, prompting outcry.