Last week Arsenal announced that the Rwandan government will be their sleeve sponsor to market the east African nation’s tourism.
The Rwandan government paid the Premier League side £30 million for a three-year deal to have the logo “Visit Rwanda” feature on the sleeves of Arsenal shirts and pitch-side screens.
With Britain expected to pour in £62 million relief aid money to Rwanda this year alone, the deal has triggered anger especially from Tory MP Andrew Bridgen who has described it as “an own goal for foreign aid.”
“If this isn’t a perfect own goal for foreign aid, I don’t know what is. It serves to expose the complete idiocy this system is based on.”
Much of the criticism stems from the fact that while poverty is a major concern in Rwanda, the country still found it prudent to lavish Arsenal with millions in cash.
Most of the criticism is aimed at Rwanda President Paul Kagame, while exiled London-based Rwandan human rights activist Rene Mugenzi has branded the deal as “obscene.”
“It is hard to believe that Arsenal really conducted due diligence on this obscene deal, and they should scrap it,” Mugenzi said.
“How can a country which receives tens of millions of UK aid start spending money on a football club in London, just because the president supports them? Britain should stop giving money to Rwanda because it just frees up their government to spend money on crazy things like this.”
On the other hand, the Rwanda Development Board CEO Clare Akamanzi has defended the deal, lauding it as a big move which will boom tourism for the country.
Arsenal have also hailed the partnership as ideal to promote Rwanda’s tourism because “the Arsenal shirt is seen 35 million times a day globally.”
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