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Chelsea consider FA complaint over Sarri abuse by Burnley bench

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Why the Chelsea head coach felt offended at the end of the game

Note Zola’s arms out wide, Woan’s sarcastic thumbs up, Rüdiger’s searing eyes in the background
Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Chelsea’s frustrating night at Stamford Bridge against Burnley may not have ended with the referee’s final whistle and the little bust-up that followed between the two benches, for which both teams are expected to receive FA sanctions.

The 2-2 draw was compounded by injuries to Callum Hudson-Odoi (done for the season, if not the calendar year) and N’Golo Kanté (hopefully back in a few days), as well as a sending off for Maurizio Sarri, which assistant manager Gianfranco Zola described as a misunderstanding with the referee, Kevin Friend.

“Maurizio has been sent off while he was trying to help Kevin, to tell our players to get into position. Kevin misinterpreted that and sent him off so he is very unhappy about it.”

-Gianfranco Zola; source: Chelsea FC

Sarri had been straying up and down the touchline from his technical area all game, in fairness, and that also got the attentions of the Burnley staff, with their manager, Sean Dyche making a complaint about that to Zola at half-time.

“[Zola] said at half-time [Sarri] is not quite getting it. 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.”

-Sean Dyche; source: ESPN

And that issue probably would not have even been brought up at the end were it not for the altercation as well as the alleged verbal abuse from the Chelsea bench in Sarri’s direction.

As per reports from ESPN and the Guardian, Sarri was “repeatedly” called a “sh*t Italian” by “multiple members of the visiting club” towards the end of the game.

Zola did not want to go into those specifics in his post-match comments, but did hint that the club will consider taking further action. The incident did get reported to the referee, who will be including it in his report.

“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. If Maurizio said that, probably it’s something that could have been avoided.”

-Gianfranco Zola; source: Guardian

Discrimination or abuse based on ethic or national origin is covered by the same laws as discrimination or abused based on race, religion, or sexual orientation, and should be treated as a serious offence just the same. If Sarri did get abused, Chelsea need to report it. This is an issue well beyond just the football pitch or football tribalism.

Burnley boss Sean Dyche tried to play off the confrontation with a ... joke? ... about his assistant, Ian Woan, but it seems quite clear that something beyond just playful and sporting banter happened in this case.

“[The were just] handbags, bumbags, manbags.”

“I don’t think my coaches’ language skills are that good. It wouldn’t have been a deep conversation. Woany’s from the Wirral.”

-Sean Dyche; source: ESPN

There’s layers to unpack there as well, to be sure, but perhaps that’s a discussion for another time.

For now, we wait for the referee’s report, Chelsea’s complaint, and any further action from the FA.

Sarri and the Burnley bench square off
Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images