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Rioters in Georgia burn rainbow flag after soccer player wears LGBTI armband

Rioters in Georgia burn rainbow flag after soccer player wears LGBTI armband

georgia soccer riot kashia armband

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.

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.

Government response

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.

Kashia told Dutch TV channel NOS he does not plan to stop playing for Georgia.