Thai Monks Credited with Helping Leicester City Soccer Team Achieve Premier League Success
The mysterious and somewhat incongruous presence of orange-robed figures on the sidelines of Leicester City’s King Power Stadium has been credited for helping achieve a feat that many fans of English soccer might once have deemed impossible—the ascent of the former second-tier team to the heady heights atop the English Premier League, which no team outside of Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, or Arsenal has won since 1994–95, after starting the season at 2,500-to-1 odds to win.
Pictures of Thai Buddhist monks at Leicester City matches and in the team’s dressing room have gone viral on social media, prompting some commentators to attribute the team’s sporting success to “good karma” from the pre-match ceremonies. Strikers David Nugent and Jamie Vardy, who have scored some of the team’s most decisive goals in recent seasons, are said to have worn Buddhist amulets around their necks.
Since 2010, Leicester City Football Club has been owned and chaired by Thai billionaire Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, chief executive of the King Power duty free empire. It is at his behest that the Thai Buddhist monks have been appearing at matches and in the team’s changing room, to lend a helping hand to the once-beleaguered team. The Srivaddhanaprabha family have frequently flown monks over from Thailand to provide positive energy and blessings for the team and their home pitch. In September 2014, the monks were invited into the dressing room before a match with Manchester United, which was followed by in a stunning 5-3 victory for Leicester City.
“The owners bring the monks over from Thailand and we get a blessing off them,” said striker Vardy. “As we were getting changed before the [Manchester] United game, the monks came round. They dip the sticks in the holy water and then lash us on our legs and feet. It’s not too hard, it’s just that you’re literally having a shower, there’s that much water going everywhere. It’s all over your gear you've just hung up. That's the Thai culture and we are happy for them to do it.” (Mirror)
Malaysian national soccer coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee said of the phenomenon that while he has seen many religious ceremonies performed before matches, one should not depend on ritual alone. “You cannot rely only on religion to win trophies. You need to work very, very hard. You have to have the belief and hard work to succeed,” he emphasized. “At the end of the day, if you do not work hard and you expect things to drop in your lap, you won’t get it.” (The Star)
Leicester City's improbable EPL run, bolstered by Buddhist monks? (Sporting News)
Thai monks have lashed us with sticks - but it's all paid off says Leicester's Jamie Vardy (Mirror)
Leicester’s ‘Thai monks’ only part of the reason for success, says Ong (The Star)