This article is about how the striker revived interest in football in Georgia. It does not pretend to be fundamental research, it is all just sketches of a Russian tourist in Georgia. But some conclusions can be drawn from them.
For the first time, I ended up in Georgia quite by accident, with an opportunity. Then a team from Tbilisi entered the VTB United League. The leadership of the league decided to organize a promotional tour in Tbilisi. About a dozen journalists flew to the Georgian capital on a CSKA charter. The army team just played a VTB League regular season match with a local team. The game was the reason for the trip.
We arrived in the evening, checked into a hotel in the old part of Tbilisi. Then we went to have dinner with the whole crowd in the nearest restaurant. Football was on the screen – the youth teams of Georgia and Spain played. Qualifying game for the Euro.
And what do you think, the sound of the broadcast was turned off. Music played in the background in the restaurant. And most importantly, none of the visitors paid any attention to the broadcast at all.
Is this really Georgia? Homeland of Meskhi, Khurtsilava, Kipiani, Gutsaev, Shengelia, Chivadze?
I’m not saying that you need to take a break from dinner and watch football. But at least some interest, as it seemed to me, should be in the match. No, football was playing in the background and without sound.
I asked the waiter why no one watches football. The answer killed: “This is not interesting. In the evening we play with Wales in the Rugby World Cup. All of Georgia will watch this match.”
What the hell is rugby? Who needs it? But these are emotions, I knew that rugby is very popular in Georgia. But not at the expense of football!
There was a sequel. One colleague suggested continuing the evening in a pub in the Old Town. He’s already been there.
“Great place, the band plays amazing blues there.”
We go in, the pub is packed, the band is not playing. What?
“Rugby will start now, we are all waiting.” And for you to think, this fucking rugby has been going on for a very long time. The pub met each successful action of its team with a powerful ovation. Marvelous. Miracles. The Georgians won, and the beer flowed with joy even more. And the band started playing around midnight when rugby was over.
BATUMI. AUGUST 2022
Again I came to Georgia, this time as a tourist. Our hotel on the outskirts of Batumi shared a yard with a three-story house. An elderly Georgian woman in her sixties sat in the yard all the time.
Once I went out to sit in the yard, I had to somehow start a conversation, sit silently and look at each other – uncomfortable.
He asked if it was far from here to the new stadium where Dynamo Batumi plays. By the way, the current champion of Georgia. The conversation smoothly flowed to Khvicha, he was already enchanting in Napoli.
“Khvicha played in Batumi, a full stadium was going to him. We are all very worried about Khvicha. We watch all the matches, the whole yard. They even called him Quaradona in Naples, that’s how, ”an elderly lady shared the news.
How does she know about Quaradona? Miracles.
TBILISI. SEPTEMBER 7, 2022
From Batumi he returned to Tbilisi on September 7. On the first evening I went to the same pub to listen to cool live music. And here – deja vu, six years later. Only the sport is different. The instruments are standing, but there is no music.
“Football will start now, Khvicha will play.”
It was a Champions League match between Napoli and Liverpool. The hosts won, and Khvicha played well. The pub reacted very emotionally to every successful action of Kvaratskhelia…
The band started playing around midnight when football ended.