Leicester’s grieving players will take to the field for the first time since the death of the club’s owner in a helicopter crash when they visit Cardiff for a Premier League game on Saturday.
The two teams said Tuesday the match will go ahead as planned in the Welsh capital, with a minute’s silence before kickoff and players wearing black armbands as a mark of respect for Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and four other people who were killed in the tragedy.
Leicester’s players have been visibly affected by the incident and have spent Monday and Tuesday attending commemorative events to pay tribute to Vichai, the club’s popular Thai owner whose helicopter spiraled out of control as it left the King Power Stadium following a Premier League game against West Ham on Saturday.
“We will be offering our support to Leicester City in any way necessary in respect of this weekend’s fixture,” Cardiff chief executive Ken Choo said.
Leicester’s English League Cup match against Southampton, scheduled for Tuesday, had been canceled, while games involving the club’s women’s team were also called off in wake of the crash.
Leicester opened a book of condolence inside a specially erected marquee in memory of Vichai on Tuesday, as more supporters and people from the wider community arrived at the stadium to pay their respects.
Leicester striker Jamie Vardy and his wife, Rebekah, wept as they placed a wreath among an ever-growing shrine to Vichai that includes flowers, scarves and soccer jerseys. Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, who was present at the scene of the crash on Saturday, was in tears as floral tributes were laid inside and outside the King Power Stadium on Monday.
Former Leicester manager Nigel Pearson, who guided the team away from relegation trouble the season before it won the Premier League in improbable fashion in 2016, said Vichai’s “quiet yet authoritative aura, presence and personality have had an immeasurable influence on English football.”
“A manager could not have wished for a better boss,” Pearson wrote in a personal letter published on the website of Belgian team OH Leuven, where he has been coach since last year.
Story: Denise Lavoie, Alanna Durkin Richer