Leicester City’s players and staff decided they would go ahead with their Premier League game at Cardiff City this weekend, just days after their owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and four others were tragically killed as his helicopter crashed outside the King Power Stadium.
Since the tragic events of last Saturday evening, just an hour or so after Leicester’s draw with West Ham, the club has been in a state of shock as it copes with the loss of Srivaddhanaprabha.
An outpouring of emotion from across the globe has seen a huge sea of flowers, scarves, shirts and tributes left at their stadium, while the staff, players and Srivaddhanaprabha’s family have held a ceremony in Leicester to pay their respects to those who perished.
The Thai businessman bought the club in 2010 and led it to promotion back to the Premier League, one of the unlikeliest league titles in soccer history in 2016 and then a UEFA Champions League quarterfinal the next season. The last few seasons had been the stuff of fairytales for everyone connected with Leicester.
Speaking to the media on Thursday and for the first time since the crash, Leicester boss Claude Puel revealed his team are motivated to honor Srivaddhanaprabha’s hard work not just this weekend but for every game moving forward.
“Playing football has not been at front of our minds this week,” Puel said. “But for this weekend, and all the matches thereafter, we play to honor a man who did so much for our club. The result is not important, but our desire, our actions to give our best on the pitch to honour our chairman, is the most important thing. We have a responsibility about the memory and the work he put in place.”
Leicester’s owner had a close bond with many of the first team squad and after their League Cup game against Southampton, scheduled for Tuesday, was postponed, it is believed the decision to play at Cardiff on Saturday was unaimous among the staff, players and Srivaddhanaprabha’s son, Aiyawatt, who is the vice-chairman of the club.
A moment of silence will take place before the game at Cardiff, and across every Premier League game this weekend, to honor Srivaddhanaprabha, while players across the Premier League will also wear black armbands as a mark of respect.