Just weeks after avoiding relegation in record-breaking fashion, Leicester City has been caught in an ugly scandal that has prompted the club to open an internal investigation.
Reports across England this morning include video of a small group of young players celebrating in Thailand by filming themselves naked with a group of Thai women before the players begin to racially abuse the girls.
The video shows players lying on a bed laughing as they hurl racial slurs at the women. Among them are manager Nigel Pearson’s 21-year-old son James (pictured) who did not have a Premier League appearance with the club this season. Alongside Pearson are U-21 players Tom Hopper and Adam Smith, neither of whom made a Premier League appearance this season either. Hopper spent time on loan at League One side Scunthorpe United this year, while Smith went on loan to League Two outfit Mansfield Town.
Leicester City issued a statement as the reports came out, saying, “We take the conduct of our players at every level extremely seriously and will take appropriate action, if necessary, once the full facts of the situation have been established. Pending the outcome of an internal investigation, the Club will make no further comment.”
The club made a trip to Thailand earlier last week as part of a goodwill tour. Club chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and co-ownerand AiyawattSrivaddhanaprabha are Thai, and Vichai’s Thai travel retail company King Power International is the club’s main sponsor. In addition, the club has a partnership with the tourism department of Thailand.
For a club that gained plenty of neutral fans who rooted for their survival down the stretch, this is an unwelcome distraction as a critical offseason gets under way. How they respond could either put this to rest swiftly and decisively, or cause it to fester and eat away at the club’s on-field success as distractions did with Cardiff City’s brief time in the Premier League.