The Foxes have the last laugh as Blues cringe


Wembley FA Cup Final 2021 with fans Image: Wembley Stadium

Football got back its soul on May 15th at the FA Cup Final as 21,000 supporters returned to the Wembley Stadium fold in London (UK) to watch the match between Premier League teams Chelsea F.C. and Leicester City F.C. – after staying shut out of arenas for a year – as COVID-19 spelt doomsday on the world in March 2020 and thwacked the United Kingdom.

A magnificent long-range strike from midfielder Youri Tielemans gave Leicester City their first FA Cup triumph with a 1-0 victory over Chelsea at Wembley on May 15th.

‘talkSPORT’ stated that with the United Kingdom tasting huge success in containing the virulent virus variant with its vaccine rollout program, the FA Cup Final – one of the world’s oldest football competition – got back its sweet flavor with full of beans fans flocking to the Wembley Stadium.

The FA Cup Final, commonly referred to in England as just the Cup Final, is the last match in the Football Association Challenge Cup. It has regularly been one of the most attended domestic football events in the world, with an official attendance of 89,472 at the 2017 final.

The Football Association Challenge Cup, more commonly known as the FA Cup, is an annual knockout football competition in men’s domestic English football. First played during the 1871-1872 seasons, it is the oldest national football competition in the world. It is organized by and named after The Football Association (FA).

London-headquartered The Football Association (FA) is the governing body of association football in England and the Crown dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. Formed in 1863, it is the oldest football association in the world and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the amateur and professional game in its territory.

The 90,000-capacity Wembley Stadium is a football stadium in Wembley, London. It opened in 2007 on the site of the original Wembley Stadium, which was demolished from 2002 to 2003. The stadium hosts major football matches including home matches of the England national football team, and the FA Cup Final.

For the first time in over a year, after staying almost cooped inside their houses for 12 months which was an ordeal for the people, fierce fans of Premier League teams Chelsea F.C. and Leicester City F.C. packed out Wembley Way in anticipation of watching live football.

‘talkSPORT’ further stated that it was a watershed moment for sport as a total of 21,000 supporters sat down in Wembley to watch Thomas Tuchel’s (head coach) ‘Blues’ and Brendan Rodgers’ (Manager) ‘The Foxes’ sweated out for the famous trophy in the 140th FA Cup Final which resulted in the latter trouncing the former.

Not just fans of the above two clubs, but supporters of other clubs too tuned in.

Fans who are not either Chelsea or Leicester City supporters also had reasons to celebrate over the May 15th fixture as it was a kind of prelude for them too to gradually return to the venue fold and cheer their favorite teams.

Those who enjoyed the match from their couches back home were ecstatic to hear the genuine chants of fans in the stands after listening to months of synthetic crowd noise. There’s just nothing like the sound of thousands of football supporters cheering and singing as one voice.

Ahead of the matchup, TV screens were awash with images of happy fans making their way to the Home of Football.

The tin foil cups were out in force, with banners, scarves, silly hats, painted faces, and plenty of beers on display as supporters enjoyed a rare moment of normality.

An FA Cup Final, in any normal year, is also treated as a special occasion by football fiends. But, this year the event turned out to be an extraordinary occasion as the COVID clobber in the United Kingdom till few months back – with the rest of the world – had kept fans away from all the pitch action.

And the Football Association ensured the May 15th match paid ode to the COVID warriors – the real bravehearts who have bend over backwards trying to save human lives keeping their lives at stake and they had the toughest year battling the fatal virus on the frontlines.

The National Health Service (NHS) choir performed ‘Abide With Me’ in a touching moment on the pitch before kickoff and armed services officers from the Army, Navy and Air Force were in attendance.

FA President Prince William also graced the occasion and mingled with the teams. And there was then the goosebumps moment of hearing over 20,000 football fans belting out ‘God Save The Queen’ at the top of their voices.

The fans’ voices resonating through the facility after a year proved how important they are for the game of football or any other event, and it is these supporters who inject life into a stadium.

Though Wembley Stadium was not full house – only the bottom tier was open to fans – it seemed fans were packed like sardines in the arena going by their high-octane activities.

The FA Cup Final is always a momentous occasion, but the 2021 chapter will be remembered as the day football fans returned home.

‘Mirror’ stated that the above clash between the Premier League duo is the latest Government pilot sports event as the UK starts easing COVID-19 restrictions which was in place as the Boris Johnson Government imposed the toughest lockdown to battle the virus variant which took a huge toll of lives in the United Kingdom.

Everyone attending was required to return a negative lateral flow COVID-19 test before traveling to the stadium. Proof of this had to be provided by email or text message to enable them to gain access to the facility, which was just under a quarter of its 90,000 capacity.

‘The Mirror’ further stated that for ‘The Foxes’ fans attending the game was bang the bucks because they hadn’t seen their side take part in English football’s showpiece occasion since 1969 and the cherry on the cake was their sporting heroes won the fixture. A lot of fans stated that they could not believe they were going to see a live match again.

Leicester and Chelsea were each given 6,250 tickets for the match, with local residents, key workers and FA guests also in attendance.

The above match proved that football and fans are incomplete without each other.

The April 15th matchup was the third event to go ahead at Wembley Stadium with in-person attendance in recent weeks, following the FA Cup semi-final between Premier League teams Leicester and Southampton F.C., and the Carabao Cup final between Premier League teams Manchester City F.C. and Tottenham Hotspur F.C. The World Snooker Championships at the 39,732-capacity Sheffield Hillsborough Stadium in England also served as a pilot.

Fans were allowed back at some football venues earlier in the season as COVID-19 cases fell, but matches have been held behind closed doors since the start of the year after the virus variant clobbered the United Kingdom.

The attendance landmark on April 15th was reached as outdoor sports venues in England were free to welcome up to 10,000 fans from May 17th as the country begins Step 3 of its roadmap out of lockdown.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced recently that venues can reopen from May 17th, meaning that the final two rounds of Premier League fixtures will go ahead with fans in attendance.

Other sports which have greeted fans back from May 17th include horse racing, rugby union and rugby league.

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