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Defense Ministry-Founded Rugby Club Protests Against Cut of Financing

By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, January 9
(TBILISI)--Players of the Rugby Club Army, established by Ministry of Defense (MOD), have gathered at the MOD, asking for explanations for the abolished funding, which left the team members unemployed.

The club that consists of 40 rugby players, will not be able to function in case the ministry does not restore its financing, which was suspended on December 25, 2017.

Geno Khelaia, a player of Rugby Club Army, says the representatives of the MOD are trying to avoid meetings with the club members.

He stressed the protest rallies will not stop until the Defense Minister Levan Izoria meets them and alters the decision.

Khelaia says it is unfair to abolish the team prior to the second season, which lasts from January to May.

“We are participating in Big Ten competition. It is unfair if we miss the opportunity to win due to the absence of funding, because we have no money to hire the stadium and have training,” he added.

The rugby players also say that they do not have the right to move to another team according to the rules of the Rugby Union, which means that 40 people will stay without income.

On January 8, the Defense Ministry released a statement, saying the rugby club was informed about the upcoming abolition of its funding in May 2017.

The statement explains that the club used to get GEL 400,000 ($154,000) annually and added that this year, funding of sports clubs is not among the priorities of the ministry.

“Despite the fact that the ministry decided to terminate the club financing a year ago, the club had the opportunity to finish the season last year,” the ministry noted.