Rwanda has defended its multi-million dollar deal to sponsor the Arsenal soccer team, telling politicians from European donor countries it is “none of their business.”
Britain’s Mail on Sunday said Rwanda paid the London club $40 million to have Arsenal players wear the “Visit Rwanda” tourist board logo on one sleeve.
Some politicians in Britain, the Netherlands and other donor countries criticised the decision by an African nation that received more than $1 billion in foreign aid and development assistance in 2016. But Rwandan foreign minister, Olivier Nduhungirehe said the money came from tourism income, not aid, and hit back at European lawmakers.
“People are talking about aid from UK, we have even MPs (Members of Parliament) from other countries like Netherlands, Switzerland questioning that. First of all, for those other MPs it is none of their business, I repeat it is none of their business, Rwanda wants to promote our tourism and taking a very few percentage of the money we received already for tourism it’s really common sense,” he added.
A sports shop attendant in Kigali,Nayila Musabyimana said the deal has proved lucrative for her business.
But also thinks that the deal “will make people come visit Rwanda.
“Since the announcement of agreements between the RDB (Rwanda Development Board) and the Arsenal team, people have come in large numbers to buy the Arsenal jerseys, especially those for the 2018-2019 season and our stocks are exhausted. Even those who don’t support Arsenal have been buying the jerseys,” she said.
Tourism is the biggest foreign exchange earner in the East African nation. And the foreign minister said he hoped revenues from the sector would double from more than $400 million last year to $800 million by 2024.
“We were jealous when we heard this Arsenal sponsorship with such money. Everyone is wondering why this money has been paid elsewhere while it should strengthen our football, we have many institutions like MTN and other big companies which should step up and do the same. The Rwanda Development Board must also look into helping local football teams and sponsoring them,” said Sotel Kayumba, Kigali FC Captain.
U.N. figures show more than 60 percent of people live under the poverty line in Rwanda, a country of 12 million where 800,000 people were killed in a genocide in 1994.
Arsenal declined to confirm the value of the sponsorship deal but said Rwanda had “transformed itself dramatically in recent times and is now regarded as one of the most advanced and respected countries in Africa”.
Source: Africa News