BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Russian Polish Albanian Greek Czech Ukrainian Serbian Turkish Romanian
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Europe  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Friday, 11 October, 2002, 12:02 GMT 13:02 UK
Georgia clashes with Russia - in football
Georgian capital Tbilisi
Football today is talk of the town in Tbilisi
Georgia's national football team plays Russia on Saturday in a European Championship qualifier, that has become as much a political as a sporting event.


It is impossible to allow the match to take place in the capital of Georgia. It needs to be moved to a neutral territory

Vladimir Zhirinovski
Forming the backdrop to the match are the tensions over the alleged presence of Chechen rebels on Georgian territory, and Russian threats to cross the border and take military action against them.

Earlier this week, when the two presidents met in the Moldovan capital, Chisinau, and agreed on joint border patrols, Mr Putin opened the talks with a reference to the forthcoming game.

Russian footballers during World Cup 2002
Russian footballers are expected to win
"Soon, you know, the soccer match will take place, Eduard Amvrosiyevich," Putin was quoted as saying by the Kommersant newspaper.

The match takes place in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, and Mr Shevardnadze is expected to attend.

Given the present climate, however, some Russian politicians have suggested the venue should be changed.

"It is impossible to allow the match to take place in the capital of Georgia," said ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, on Ekho Moskvy radio.

"It needs to be moved to neutral territory."

Mr Zhirinovski even predicted Russia would win 5 - 0.

Low expectations

Georgians do not expect the result to be that bad for their national team, but expectations are low.


Let's leave the politics to the politicians, I am a soccer player

Kakha Kaladze
Although the squad has a number of skilful players there is little team spirit.

The heydays of the Georgian football - when Dynamo Tbilisi was one of the most successful Soviet clubs - are over.

Georgia slumped to a 4 - 1 defeat to Switzerland in its first qualifying game last month, whereas Russia beat Ireland 4 - 2.

Georgia's star player, Kakha Kaladze, has been quoted by a Russian newspaper as saying: "Let's leave the politics to the politicians, I am a soccer player."

He himself has been a victim of the lawlessness of Georgia's Pankisi Gorge, which Chechen rebels have used to shelter from Russian forces in Chechnya.

His brother is still missing after being kidnapped in Tbilisi last year. He is thought to be being held in the gorge.

After the kidnapping Mr Kaladze said he would never play for Georgia again, but later relented.

See also:

19 Sep 02 | Europe
28 Sep 02 | Europe
10 Jun 02 | Europe
06 Oct 02 | Wales
22 Jul 00 | Europe
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes