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The Vice Prime Minister of Georgia, Kakha Kaladze, in his talk on Georgian sport, stated: "The Cartu Group has made a great contribution to the success of Georgia’s National Rugby team because the Group constructs its entire infrastructure and stadiums."

FactCheck

took interest in the accuracy of the statement.

The annual income of the Georgian Rugby Union consists of money both from the state budget and the private sector. According to the data of 2015, the Georgian Rugby Union’s budget does not exceed GEL 12 million whilst the total amount of funding for rugby from the state budget in the period of 2008-2015 equals GEL 49 million.

According to the information of the Georgian Rugby Union, the Cartu Group has been a leader among representatives of the private sector in terms of donations to Georgian rugby over the last years. The Cartu Group took interest in the sport in 2008 and has carried out a number of large infrastructural projects since then. Of these projects, the most important ones include the construction of 23 new modern rugby stadiums and the renovation of a training base. The total expenses of the Cartu Group allocated for projects in the period of 2008-2014 exceeded GEL 100 million. According to the information of the Georgian Rugby Union, the parties are continuing their partnership with the Cartu Group which is committed to making almost the same amount of investment in the future.

On 17 November 2014, at the International Rugby Board (IRB) conference in London, several individuals were recognised for their contributions to the development of rugby throughout the world. The former Prime Minister of Georgia and the founder of the Cartu Group, Bidzina Ivanishvili, received a special award for his contribution to the development of rugby in Georgia. The statement, released by the International Rugby Board, states that rugby has become a leading sport in Georgia thanks to the support of the Cartu Group. According to the statement of the former President of the Georgian Rugby Union, Gia Nizharadze, the Cartu Foundation’s donation is unprecedented because no one has ever made an investment of this size in the sport of rugby.

The year 2017 is a particularly important date for Georgian rugby because Georgia will host the World Rugby under 20 Championship. The Cartu Foundation together with the state is taking part to build the necessary infrastructure for the upcoming competition. According to FactCheck

’s information, the Foundation will provide funding for the construction of a new rugby stadium in the district of Dighomi (Tbilisi) with a capacity of 25,000 spectators.

Apart from the infrastructural projects, the Cartu Group also finances other rugby related projects and partially covers the Georgian National Rugby team’s expenses associated with training and preparing for tournaments.

Of additional note are the recent events within the Georgian Rugby Union which have had a negative impact upon the future of Georgian rugby. At the end of the last year, the controversies in regard to the Union’s presidential elections gave rise to certain suspicions and mistrust among the population that the state was presumably involved in the elections process. The presidential election, which was planned on 20 December 2015 and was supposed to end with the election of a new Georgian Rugby Union president, was postponed because both of the registered candidates, Irakli Abuseridze and Gia Nizharadze, withdrew their candidacies. The former candidates declared that they would do their best to confront any attempt of interference in the elections process and their decision to quit was aimed at maintaining unity among the Georgian rugby community. The Georgian Rugby Union’s new presidential election was held on 24 January 2015 with the participation of two candidates – Gocha Svanidze and Ilia Zedgenidze. The votes were cast in a secret ballot with Gocha Svanidze gaining 35 votes against Ilia Zedgenidze’s 32. Mr Svanidze will be the Georgian Rugby Union’s president for the next four years.

Conclusion

The Cartu Group has spent approximately GEL 40 million more than the money spent from the state budget of Georgia for the development of rugby in the country. Apart from infrastructural projects, the Foundation also provided funding for different projects for the development of the sport. Additionally, it covered expenses associated with the Georgian National Rugby team’s training. In this context, of important note is that the former Prime Minister of Georgia and the founder of the Cartu Group, Bidzina Ivanishvili, received a special award from the International Rugby Board in 2014 for his contribution to the development of rugby in Georgia.

Therefore, FactCheck concludes that Kakha Kaladze’s statement is TRUE.

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