More Georgian footballers have spoken out in support of vice captain of the Georgian National team Guram Kashia for wearing a rainbow flag armband in support of the LGBT community.
A defender for Dutch football club,‘Vitesse,’ Kashia wore a rainbow flag armband in support of the LGBT community during a match in the Netherlands earlier in October.
He has received wide criticism on social media in Georgia for ‘betraying national traditions.’
In a recent interview responding to the backlash, Kashia stood firm about his decision to wear the rainbow flag armband.
On October 25, Georgian goalkeeper Giorgi Loria who currently plays for ‘Anges’ told Tabula that “this was freedom of expression from Kashia and I agree with him too that each person is free and that aggression towards any person has to be condemned. It Doesn’t matter if they represent the LGBT community or not. I have a very neutral attitude towards the LGBT community, however we should have respect for any citizen, because everyone decides on their own how to live their lives.”
Another Georgian footballer, Jimi Tabidze told ‘adjarasport’ that “what Kashia wanted to say was to condemn the aggression that is being spread against LGBT people in the world. I think that this problem is especially severe in Georgia. Violence against LGBT people is unacceptable.”
FC Donetsk Shakhtar footballer Giorgi Arabidze commented that he neither supports nor is against the LGBT community: “To be honest, I don’t know what Kashia thinks about the LGBT community, but I am sure in his professionalism. Kashia acted as a real professional. I’m neither in favour nor against the LGBT community, but the aggression towards them is unacceptable.”
Georgian footballer Nika Kacharava who plays forward for the Polish team “Korona” and on the National Georgian team, also wrote in support of Kashia that “Kashia is the leader of our team. He is exemplary on the field, but also beyond the football field. The fact that some people have different opinions than him shouldn’t be a reason for such a fuss. No one should forget in one day how much Kashia has done for the national team and for Georgia. I don’t see anything bad in condemning the aggression, on the contrary I condemn any kind of aggression.”
Former footballer and newly elected mayor of Tbilisi, Kakha Kaladze also commented that “an anti-discrimination bill was adopted in Georgia under our leadership and that is welcoming. Freedom of expression is very important. We are a democratic country and every citizen has the right despite their nationality, religion or sexual orientation to express their opinions.”
Even the President of the Georgian Football Federation Levan Kobiashvili expressed his support towards Guram Kashia on his facebook page.
Not everyone was on the same page with Kashia and other footballers. Footballer Davit Skhirtladze who plays for the Danish team ‘Silkeborg’ told Adjarasport agency that he is against the LGBT community.
“Of course, participating in such a thing wasn’t his [Kashia’s] initiative, the football federation obliges captains of the team to do that. The same kind of campaign was was in Denmark too, the captain of my team was against the LGBT community, however the federation obliged him to participate in the campaign. He did what he was told to do. He had no other way. I am very much against them [LGBT community], but I would act the same way as Kashia in the same situation, because I can’t change the opinion of the football federations of Denmark or the Netherlands.”