Dribbling their Balls


The roads of sports and politics have intersected once again in Georgia. This time the meeting point is Gardabani, where the elections of the Head of the Municipality are to take place and where the candidates of the United National Movement (UNM) and Georgian Dream (GD) will oppose each other. The UNM candidate is local businessman Besik Kakhabrishvili, while the GD candidate is the former player of the National Football Team, Gocha Jamarauli. A similar controversy took place in rugby a while ago, where the favorite candidates of exactly that same political organizations were running for the post of the President of the Georgian Rugby Union (GRU). The former captain of the National Rugby Team, Ilia Zedgenidze, was supported by GD, while the UNM supported lawyer Gocha Svanidze.

Nobody hides the fact that the GD candidate Gocha Jamarauli is lobbied by the Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Energy, Kakha Kaladze, who is a former footballer himself. Obviously, it is through this that the Minister plans to strengthen his position for the upcoming parliamentary elections in the Gardabani municipality as well as the Georgian Dream itself. Supporter of GD and political expert Mamuka Areshidze says that he himself was to be nominated as the candidate of GD in the Gardabani elections, though Kakha Kaladze took preference over his former colleague instead.

“When the meeting was held with the management of the party, Kakha Kaladze told me that the party had agreed to me running for Governor,” Areshidze told newspaper Versia. “Nothing more was said at the first meeting, however, at the second meeting he said that I didn’t suit them. Jamarauli is Kaladze’s friend and perhaps this led to his candidacy, in addition to this, Jamarauli was born and brought up in Gardabani.” By the way, unlike Jamarauli, Mamuka Areshidze is a relative of Minister Kaladze’s wife, however, apparently family connections have been beaten this time by sporting ties.

Currently, Gocha Jamarauli is a member of the GFF Executive Committee. Jamarauli has already confronted his colleagues on political grounds in the Federation, when the Executive Committee turned down the demand of the President of the GFF, Kakhi Kaladze’s favorite Levan Kobiashvili, to dismiss the head coach of the National Team from his post. The refusal of the Committee was explained by Kobiashvili as political revenge and he blamed everything on the “invisible hand” of the United National Movement. Apparently, the President of the Federation is referring to revenge for his own win in the Presidential elections, when his candidacy was supported by GD and Minister Kaladze and when then Vice-President Revaz Arveladze was supported by the UNM.

Almost an identical scenario took place in the Presidential elections in the Rugby Union last week. The attitude of GD has changed towards now former President Gia Nizharadze, only because the latter was elected during the UNM’s term in government. However, the favorite of the ruling party lost the elections to the candidate who was supported by Gia Nizharadze. Gocha Svanidze surpassed Ilia Zedgenidze with only two votes, which was followed by a tirade against Nizharadze about the squandered Federation budget in social networks. It was also not forgotten that Svanidze was Zurab Adeishvili’s lawyer in the past. How Gocha Jamarauli’s debut in politics will end is hard to tell, as, unlike sports, politics has different laws. However, there was a time when there were no elections at all, democracy did not exist and everyone knew that sports was the extension of politics, when the Head of the Football Division of the Georgian Sports Committee was assigned by the Head of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, who in turn was designated by the First Secretary of that same Central Committee, and when the First Secretary was appointed by Moscow!

Zaza Jgharkava

28 January 2016 19:40