Georgia's debut at Euro 2024 is “not just about football” as historic participation raises new hopes for the EU

At 18:00 CET, Georgia will face Turkey in a historic match that aims to unite the country after months of social unrest.


Georgia is counting down the minutes to its debut at a major football tournament as it prepares to face neighbouring Turkey in its first Group F match at Euro 2024.

The Caucasus country of 3.7 million people secured its place in Europe's biggest football tournament after a thrilling playoff win against Greece and is now feeling football fever.

“This is a very important day for Georgia,” said Euronews Georgia reporter Giorgi Sanaze. “It's a dream for us to be part of the European Championships, everyone is really excited.”

Georgia's undisputed leader is Khvicha Kvaratskhelia. The 23-year-old winger has scored 15 goals in 30 appearances for the national team and was instrumental in securing Italian club Napoli their historic third Serie A title in the 2022/23 season.

A moment of hope in times of social chaos

Georgians hope that the 2024 European Championship will bring some joy and relief to the country after months of political and social unrest sparked by the adoption of a controversial “foreign agents” law.

The law has been compared to similar laws introduced by the Kremlin as it tightened controls on NGOs that receive at least 20 percent of their funding from abroad, sparking protests, clashes and arrests.

“It was an incredible feeling when we qualified. The streets were full of people and Georgian flags and everyone was celebrating,” said Sanaze. “But right after that we were thrown into the chaos of the protests in Tbilisi and all over Georgia.”

“Some national team members, such as Budu Zivzivadze and Giorgi Kochorashvili, publicly attacked the government, while those who remained neutral faced criticism.”

“Taking part in the European Championship means being closer to Europe”

Georgia celebrated the highly anticipated event by issuing special coins and stamps.

In a great show of love, a fan rode 4,000 kilometers on his motorcycle in twelve days on Saturday to bring a huge Georgian flag full of messages of support to the team's training camp in Velbert.

Since Georgia is still a candidate for EU membership, Sanaze explained, participation in the European Championship is not just about football.

“It somehow brings us closer to the European community. And if sport unites everyone, then it can also do a lot of good in politics.”

“As Jürgen Klopp once said, the job of football is to make people forget their worries for 90 minutes. We hope that our football team will do the same for us.”

Anna Harden

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