Chelsea assistant manager Gianfranco Zola has said club chief Maurizio Sarri was offended after he was reportedly called a "s--t Italian" by the Burnley bench prior to being sent off in their 2-2 draw on Monday night.
Sarri was sent to the stands after addressing referee Kevin Friend late on at Stamford Bridge. Zola took over media duties for the post-match press conference after the Blues dropped points and explained Sarri's frustration prevented him from appearing, via Omnisport:
The assistant said Friend had misinterpreted Sarri's actions after he reacted to a yellow card shown to Mateo Kovacic in injury time:
"He's very frustrated. I think there will be a follow up on that. Maurizio felt very unhappy. We understand it's a football game. You say words because of the adrenalin, but he wasn't particularly happy.
"If Maurizio said that, probably it's something that could have been avoided. There is a lot of emotion at the moment. He was very unhappy with some of the decisions on the pitch.
"He went to tell our players to get on with the game. It has been misinterpreted by Kevin [Friend]. That's why I am here."
ESPN FC's Liam Twomey cited sources and wrote several members of Burnley's staff called Sarri a "s--t Italian." Sarri could incur a touchline ban following his dismissal in west London, via Optus Sport (Australia only):
All four goals on the night were scored within the first 25 minutes. Jeff Hendrick and Ashley Barnes provided a pair of volleyed finishes for Burnley, while N'Golo Kante and Gonzalo Higuain scored for the hosts.
Chelsea defenders Antonio Rudiger—who wasn't in Monday's squad—and David Luiz were each involved in a blowout near the tunnel at the end of the match (Australia only):
Journalist Vaishali Bhardwaj described the unfortunate scenes at the climax of what was an otherwise entertaining encounter:
Frustrations were clear for the Chelsea players after they failed to win a second successive Premier League game, having lost 2-0 at Liverpool in their previous top-flight fixture.
Callum Hudson-Odoi withdrew before half-time and later revealed he had ruptured his Achilles, which is even more reason for his manager to feel unhappy:
Sarri could be looking at a touchline ban if the Football Association decides to punish him for his outburst, even if Zola suggests he and referee Friend had their wires crossed at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea travel to face Manchester United on Sunday, and it's assistant Zola who may have to take the reins as they seek a result at Old Trafford that could define their Premier League campaign.