Billionaire ex-PM Offers £8.4m Gift to Georgia Squad


Bidzina Ivanishvili, the former prime minister of Georgia, has pledged to give £8.4m to the nation's football team after they beat Portugal at Euro 2024.

Georgia, managed by former French defender Willy Sagnol, overcame Portugal 2-0 in Gelsenkirchen on Wednesday to qualify for the last-16 stage, where they will face Spain.

Ivanishvili, who founded the ruling Georgian Dream political party and became prime minister of the country in 2012, said the win against Portugal was a "historic and dream victory".

The 68-year-old said he would donate a further £8.4m (30 million Georgian Lari) to the squad and coaching staff should they also beat Spain.

Ivanishvili was born in Georgia and established his fortune in Russia in the 1990s with investments in banking, computers and metals.

His wealth is estimated by Forbes at around £3.87bn and the Georgian Dream party says the donations will come from Ivanishvili's charitable foundation.

Although he stepped down as prime minister after just 12 months in the job, Ivanishvili still has an influence within the country's ruling party as its honorary chairman.

In April, many players from Georgia's Euro 2024 squad spoke out against the Georgian Dream party after the announcement of a law on "foreign agents".

The law, which was enacted in parliament in June, sparked some of the biggest protests seen in Georgia since the country declared its independence in 1991 as critics said the bill threatened their civil liberties.

Georgia, who are competing at the European Championship for the first time, face Spain in Cologne on Sunday at 8pm BST.