Levan Kobiashvili 38, a retired footballer, who used to play for SC Freiburg, FC Schalke and most recently in Hertha BSC, became the new president of the Georgian Football Federation (GFF) on October 3.
Georgian Football federation elects new President
By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, October 5
Out of 33 GFF delegates, 18 voted for Kobiashvili and 15 for another leading candidate, Revaz Arveladze, who is also a retired footballer and served as the GFF's Secretary General. The third candidate, Mamuka Kvaratskhelia, did not receive any votes.
The elections were preceded by the 18-hour detention of one of the federation delegates Gega Gobejishvili, who was detained on the elections eve for the allegeded use of illegal drugs.
Gobejishvili was apparently intending to vote for Arveladze in the race for the GFF presidency. He was released after the judge fined him GEL 500; however, by the time of the elections, he had already been replaced as the GFF delegate by another person.
Gobejishvili’s friends and Arveladze’s supporters said that he was arrested solely in order to sideline him from the vote and give the advantage to the government’s favoured candidate Kobiashvili, who was presented by PM Irakli Garibashvili for the symbolic position of Mayor of the Olympic village during the Youth Olympic Games held in Tbilisi during the summer.
The presence of the Energy Minister Vice-Primier Kakha Kaladze at the elections in Holiday Inn caused allegations about interference by the government.
Kaladze, who is a former footballer himself, rejected the allegations, saying that he was invited as a guest by the UEFA vice-president Grigoriy Surkis, as they have friendly relations.
“I want to congratulate Levan. This is a very responsible position and we have agreed that Georgian football is in a poor condition. These are very difficult challenges and I am sure that Levan can handle it,” Kaladze stated.
Revaz Arveladze also congratulated his opponent wishing him success and hoping that he will “do more than his predecessor”; however he stated that the race was unequal and everything had been arranged against him.
After becoming the GFF president, Levan Kobiashvili spoke to his supporters and said that he will present his plans and staff changes in several days.
"I would like to thank everyone. This is victory is not only mine, this is the victory for Georgian football," he stated.
The previous GFF president was Zviad Schinava, who led the federation since 2009 but resigned a short time ago for being a target of heavy criticism, mostly due to poor results in international contests by the Georgian national team.