ADDED ON: 08/30/2018

How a Rainbow-colored Armband Led to a Soccer Riot

08/29/2018 | Mercury News

A year ago, soccer player Guram Kashia lay in bed filled with fear and anxiety while facing social media threats, denouncements, political commentary and protests from a small pocket of people in the Republic of Georgia. Why had the gesture of wearing a rainbow-colored armband to support gay rights caused such rancor in his native land? “I never expected having a captain band on the arm could bring so much hate and aggression,” said Kashia, a veteran defender who signed with the Earthquakes this summer. Now the fallout has led Europe’s soccer governing body UEFA to honor the central defender with its inaugural #EqualGame award. Kashia will be recognized tonight during the Earthquakes’ home game against FC Dallas because he can’t attend the official ceremony the next day in Monaco. “Sometimes as a professional athlete you have such a big voice,” Kashia said. “You can step up for certain people to become better as a culture and to give new values and vision. Some people stay away from it. I never shy away from my opinions.”

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