On Saturday 15th May 2021, Leicester City not only competed in the FA Cup Final for the first time in over 50 years, but they also beat one of the strongest contenders for the trophy, Chelsea.
The weekend saw celebrations across the city, not entirely comparable to Leicester’s 2016 Premier League win, but explosive nonetheless.
The last time Leicester placed in the final of this 150 year competition was in 1969. They were quite poetically beaten 1 nil by Manchester City.
Now, beating one of the UK’s top teams in this cup final after a devastating VAR (video assistant referee) result disallowed Chelsea’s equalising goal, Leicester have now secured their place in the Europa League, which will serve as a safety net if the team don’t make it to the UEFA Champions League.
Tensions ran high during Saturday’s game, with former Leicester player, Ben Chilwell, who has played for Chelsea since last year, scored what could have been a soul-destroying, equalising goal, leading to a cacophony of premature celebrations from Chelsea fans.
VAR technology has been heavily criticised by long-term fans due to it regularly taking away from moments of celebration such as this, turning cheers into stunned silence or fury, as the digital displays show “no goal”. The argument in support of VAR is understandably that it removed a lot of uncertainty and unfairness from these high profile games. Decades-long rivalries and feuds between fans have been spurred on by claims of off-side goals and unfair penalties.
Fans in Leicester celebrated outside bars and restaurants showing the final, after venues were recently allowed to welcome customers to outdoor seating areas.
There was also a much more emotional reaction to the final, as chairman and CEO of LCFC Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha was brought onto the field to hold up the trophy. Aiyawatt is the son of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the beloved former chairman who tragically died in 2018 in a helicopter crash outside of Leicester’s King Power stadium.
The Foxes just need to hang on to their top 4 status over the next few weeks to secure their place in the Champions League. Coincidentally, they play Chelsea tomorrow, 18th May, for their next Premier League match. Luckily, the Chelsea team may be focused on their upcoming Champions League final, giving Leicester the chance to increase their lead on the 4th place team.
By Sam Ellison