Eight people were arrested during a riot protesting a LGBTI armband worn by a player on Georgia’s national soccer team.
A protest was organized by right-wing group Georgian March after player Guram Kashia wore the armband while playing for his Dutch club, Vitesse Arnhem. He wore the armband to coincide with the Netherlands’ national ‘Coming Out Day’.
Kashia is the Vice-Captain of the Georgian national team. Since the riot he said he would continue to support equal rights.
Meet Guram Kashia, a Georgian who made history becoming 1st Eastern European football player openly supporting struggling local LGBT community.
This is what a badass equality really looks like.
Madloba, Kasho pic.twitter.com/eXk5KkoUSn
— Maxim Eristavi (@MaximEristavi) October 27, 2017
The protestors were demanding the Georgian Football Federation kick Kashia off the national team for his support of LGBTI issues.
They lit smoke bombs and flares, shouted homophobic slurs and burnt a rainbow flag outside the Georgian Football Federation.
The eight were arrested on charges of resisting police and minor hooliganism. AP reported they were due to appear in court Wednesday.
Georgia’s President Giorgi Margvelashvili was quick to throw his support behind Kashia.
‘Everyone has the right for freedom of expression,’ he wrote on Facebook.
‘We should respect human rights and liberties. I stand with the unanimous support that sporting society has expressed toward Guram Kashia.’
The Georgian Football Federation also reportedly supported Kashia’s efforts, along with some of his fellow Georgian players.
Yes, they said they support equality and freedom of expression, denounced violence of any kind. Few prominent Geo players spoke out as well
— Dato Parulava (@dato_parulava) October 31, 2017
Kashia told Dutch TV channel NOS he does not plan to stop playing for Georgia.