Jamie Vardy was given a resounding show of support by his club on Boxing Day as Leicester City's owners encouraged fans to protest over the star's three-match ban. Almost 30,000 masks bearing the striker's face were distributed to fans to wear at the club's match against Everton.
Vardy, who was last season's second highest scorer in the Premier League, was sent off for a two-footed challenge against Stoke City's Mame Biram Diouf on 17 December. Though the club attempted to overturn the decision, the Football Association (FA) announced on 20 December it would uphold the referee's decision, while offering no further comments.
The club's manager Claudio Ranieri, who won in the Best Coach category at this year's BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards, said the FA's decision made him "sad" for football. The club's Thai chairman, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, also described the decision as "unfair".
Ranieri defended the club's decision to appeal the ban, and told reporters at his pre-Christmas press conference: "All in England, all the world watch the foul and say it's not a foul."
He added: "We made an appeal because we believe in something right and we are very disappointed in the result because we make a mistake or when my players make a mistake, we don't appeal. But that wasn't a foul."
The club, who were last season's surprise title winners against odds of 5,000-1, were also without suspended Christian Fuchs and Robert Huth for the Boxing Day match. Despite a promising start to their Champions League campaign, the club started the festive fixture just three points above the bottom three and a possible relegation dogfight.
Vardy was an integral part in the club's shock rise to stardom after joining from non-league Fleetwood Town in 2012. After his "fairytale season" Vardy was approached by Premier League giants Arsenal during the summer, triggering the 29-year-old's release clause with a bid of £22 million. However, concerned about where he would fit in the Gunners' lineup, Vardy opted to stick with Leicester.
Despite the club's best attempts to get the fans behind players, a 2-0 loss against Everton saw the Foxes drop to 17th below Burnley and Crystal Palace.