Georgian footballer Guram Kashia, a defender for Dutch football club Vitesse and vice-captain of the Georgian national team, has been receiving criticism from conservative Georgian football fans on social media for wearing a rainbow flag armband in support of the LGBT community during, a match in the Netherlands earlier in October.
In a recent interview responding to the backlash, Kashia stood firm about his decision to wear the rainbow flag armband.
“I always support freedom of people and oppose violence. As long as people do not harm others, I will support it. It's hard to explain, but some people in our country cannot get it,” Kashia said in an interview on October 23.
“There were very few people who expressed dissatisfaction [about the rainbow armband] on my Facebook page and obviously I did not pay much attention to it. They were disappointed with my behavior, but I did not regret what I did, it was my responsibility. I do not care about who you are, what you are doing in your life; if you do not harm other people, you can be whoever you want to be, that's my vision. Some people were disappointed with this, but this is not a big challenge,” Kashia said.
Members of the Georgian national football team have expressed support for Kashia.
Tabula spoke with Kashia’s close friend and colleague, footballer Giorgi Loria, who is a goalkeeper of the Georgian national team and for football club Anzhi.
"Everyone knows how good a person Guram is… It seems that Guram's actions were misunderstood and perceived badly in part of the Georgian public,” Loria told Tabula. “This is Kashia’s right of expression and I agree that any person is free and aggression against any human being is blameworthy behavior. It does not matter whether he is a representative of the LGBT community or not. I have an absolutely neutral attitude toward the LGBT community. We have to respect any human being, because everyone decides how to live individually, unless the freedom of others is restricted… This armband represents opposition to the violence,” Loria said.
Georgian national football team members Jimi Tabidze and Giorgi Arabidze also showed support for Kashia’s decision to wear the rainbow flag armband.