President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili posted a photo on his Facebook of Georgian footballer Guram Kashia on October 30, stating his support for the footballer.
Kashia has received backlash on social media in Georgia for ‘betraying national traditions’ after wearing a rainbow flag armband in support of the LGBT community, during a football match playing as a defender for Dutch football club ‘Vitesse’ earlier in October.
Some in Georgia have even called for cutting Kashia off from the Georgian national football team, which he is Vice Captain.
“The campaign that was brought against Guram Kashia is unacceptable. Every single person has the freedom of expression, we should respect people’s rights and freedoms. I condemn expression of violence in any form. I salute the unified support from the sports community towards Guram Kashia. Hatred and violence is unfamiliar for our society. The Vice-captain of the Georgian national football team and defender for Dutch football club ‘Vitesse,’ Guram Kashia, has my support!” President Margvelashvili wrote.
Kashia responded on his Facebook sharing the President’s post and writing: “Thank you Mr. President.”
In an interview responding to the backlash, Kashia stood firm about his decision to wear the rainbow flag armband.
Other Georgian footballers as well as the President of the Georgian Football Federation and other celebrities have stood up in support of Kashia and condemning violence against LGBT people worldwide.