Rwanda Defends Its £30 Million Arsenal FC Spend
Rwanda does not see a problem with its Arsenal sponsorship that has the high-ranking English Football Club’s players taking to the field with Visit Rwanda emblazoned on their shirt sleeves for three years. The money is part of a budget for marketing, and was sourced from cash earned from tourism in the first place, says Kigali.
The deal, recently announced, has attracted a lot of criticism, mainly from the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Detractors are asking why a country dependent on donors and troubled by high levels of poverty would be spending such an enormous amount of money.
The Shirt of Shame
The Daily Mail recently published an article accusing the English government of sponsoring Rwanda for more than £60 million in foreign aid every year, only for roughly half that amount to be used by President Paul Kagame to support his favourite football club, Arsenal.
The paper quoted Ian Birrell, a well-known Kagame critic, as saying that the deal makes rather a mockery of English fair play. It was described by a lawmaker named Andrew Bridgen in a phrase punters who enjoy Arsenal, thanks to the various betting sites now so widely available online will quickly recognise, calling it an ‘own goal’ of foreign aid.
Demands for Development Support to Be Revisited
Legislators in both The Netherlands and the United Kingdom are demanding that their respective governments take another look at the money being sent to Rwanda in the form of development support.
But the Rwanda Development Board, or RDB, the agency overseeing the tourism industry, has brushed off the criticism. Their stance is that the deal forms part of a marketing drive aimed to grow tourism numbers and revenue overall in the foreseeable future.
Clare Akamanzi, the Chief Executive of the RDB, has accused critics of wishing to keep Rwanda as poor as it is. She took some time to tweet her thoughts, explaining that those viewing this massive expenditure in any kind of negative light obviously just don’t understand that you have to spend money to make money.
Nduhungirehe Responds to Dutch MPs
Olivier Nduhungirehe, Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, responded to Dutch MPs criticising the deal by telling them to mind their own business. In a response to a comment made by a politician from The Netherlands calling this kind of payment disheartening, Nduhungirehe told them to stay out of it, and stated that they could talk when Feyenoord and Ajax became as popular as Arsenal is.
Feyenoord, based in Rotterdam, delivered a rather irreverent response to his ridiculous comment, saying that while they would like to remain out of any sort of political discussions, they knew they had at least one fan in Rwanda. They then shared a photograph of Kagame being given a Feyenoord jersey by Gid Vader in October of 2015!
Andrew Bridgen, the Tory MP, said that British taxpayers will be shocked, and rightly so, to find out that a country being supported by massive handouts from the United Kingdom is, in turn, pumping millions into a fabulously wealthy London Football Club.