LONDON -- Several individuals on the Burnley bench riled Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri by repeatedly calling him "s--- Italian" prior to the touchline brawl that marred Monday's 2-2 draw between the clubs at Stamford Bridge, sources have told ESPN FC.
Sarri was sent down the tunnel in the closing minutes of the match by referee Kevin Friend and fourth official Roger East after losing his cool with members of Sean Dyche's backroom team, though the Burnley manager himself was not involved.
Sources have told ESPN FC that Sarri's anger boiled over when he was branded a "s--- Italian" by multiple members of the visiting club, and Chelsea's head coach was so offended by what he had heard that postmatch media duties were delegated to his assistant Gianfranco Zola.
Details of the words exchanged between the two benches are expected to be included in the referee's report given that East was in position to hear everything, and after the game Zola suggested that Chelsea could ask the Football Association to take action against Burnley for what was said.
"He's very frustrated, so he'd prefer not to come over here," Zola said of Sarri. "He's been sent off. I think he's been offended as well, so he didn't feel it was the right thing to do, to speak to you.
"I think he's been told something from their bench, but don't ask me exactly what. I don't want to go down that line, but we'll see what we can do about that.
"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."
Emotions between the benches flared early in the game, with Dyche's assistant Ian Woan pointing out that Sarri was encroaching on the visiting technical area while Chelsea took issue with what they perceived as cynical Burnley time-wasting from midway through the first half onwards.
Tensions escalated as Burnley stubbornly repelled waves of Chelsea pressure and acted to slow the game down in the closing minutes, and at the final whistle a mass of angry bodies from both clubs converged at the entrance to the Stamford Bridge tunnel.
Burnley goalkeeping coach Billy Mercer had to be restrained after becoming incensed with Chelsea goalkeeper coach Massimo Nenci and fitness coach Paolo Bertelli, while defender Antonio Rudiger also waded into the melee despite currently nursing an injured knee.
Both clubs are likely to face punishment from the FA for failing to control their players and staff, but individuals on the Burnley side could be punished further if they are shown in the referee's report to have provoked Sarri.
After the game Dyche made a light-hearted effort to play down the ugly scenes as "handbags, bumbags, manbags," but did confirm he had sought out Zola at half-time to raise the issue of Sarri encroaching on the Burnley technical area.
"He said at half-time [Sarri] is not quite getting it," Dyche said of his conversation with Zola. "I said he was going over into my box. He just said he didn't quite get the reality of it -- they're bigger in Italy. OK. He's been here a while, mind. I said fine and accepted it."
When it was put to him that Sarri had exchanged angry words with members of his backroom team including Woan, Dyche joked: "I don't think the coaches' language skills are that good. It wouldn't have been a deep conversation. Woany's from the Wirral [near Liverpool in England]."