Most people who know me well, will know that I am not a fan at all of football; to me it is a game full of overpaid egos and ‘wannabee’ actors ~ the drama with which a footballer dives to the floor when an opponent gets within two feet of them is worthy of a role in Crossroads (yes; I do remember that far back!!)…
However, the last couple of weeks have provided a different kind of drama that has piqued my interest… Principally, when people talk about the sport they are focused on the 90-minutes of football that takes place on the pitch on a Saturday afternoon or they are talking about the ridiculously large salaries paid to footballers, which in fact could go a long way to clearing the national debt!! What is largely forgotten is that a football club is just another employer and beyond those 11 players on the pitch, is a whole workforce fulfilling a range of roles critical to the success… or failure of a football club.
Although the attitude and behaviour of those at the forefront of the game may appear to suggest otherwise, they are bound by the same employment legislation and best practice when dealing with staff as every other employer in the Country.
By now; most of you will probably have guessed that I am referring to the pitch-side incident and aftermath between Jose Mourinho and Eva Carneiro. Whilst most of the headlines surrounding this incident have long since been consigned to chip shop wrapping paper; I suspect the HR issues highlighted by this incident may well rumble on for some time…
The first element to consider is that of ‘bullying’. Bullying, which can be generally defined as; ‘threatening, abusive, intimidating, undermining or insulting behaviour that may be an abuse of power, position or knowledge which leads to other people becoming stressed, demotivated or frightened...’. In a normal work environment, reprimanding or shouting at an individual in a public place or in front of their peers can often be indicative of behaviour which is bullying; so the fact this incident took place in front of the players, thousands of fans and worldwide television cameras could only serve to magnify any feelings of being bullied.
Sadly of course, this behaviour is not unique to Mourinho in the footballing world; Managers are often seen on pitchside screaming and shouting at their players, other Managers and the match officials. Most footballing fans can still probably recall the Boxing Day match a few years ago when Phil Brown, then Manager at Hull City was so unhappy with his team’s first-half performance that he forced them to take their half-time break in humiliating fashion, sitting round in a circle on the pitch like naughty school-children!
So whilst this behaviour appears to be the norm in football; should those working within that environment be forced to put up with it???
If we then think about what happened next; Eva Carneiro and a second medic who had been involved in the incident, were then very publicly ‘demoted’ from their roles and were not ‘permitted’ by Mourinho to take their places on the bench at the next match.