August 16 – Rwandan President Paul Kagame lambasted Arsenal’s dramatic opening-day defeat after the club’s 2-0 loss to newly promoted Brentford. He said Arsenal fans shouldn’t “accept mediocrity”.
On Friday, the London club reached a new nadir when it was thoroughly outplayed by crosstown rivals Brentford, who had been absent from the top flight for 74 years. But with fresh and incisive football Brentford dispatched a lethargic Arsenal with goals from Sergio Canos and Christian Norgaard.
After the final whistle Rwanda’s head of state was quick to tweet his dismay about the Gunners, a club his government sponsors via the ‘Visit Rwanda brand. He wrote: “We just must NOT excuse or accept mediocrity. A team has to be built with purpose to win win win.”
Visit Rwanda has been one of Arsenal’s main partners since 2018, taking the club’s sleeve sponsorship patch as part of what has been a controversial £30 million sponsorship. The partnership was promoted as allowing the East African country to “gain global exposure through branding on matchday LED boards at the Emirates Stadium [Arsenal’s home ground], all the interview backdrops and a broad range of other marketing rights.”
Since 2018, the Rwandan government and Visit Rwanda has had a controversial sponsorship deal worth more than £30 million with the logo featuring on Arsenal’s shirt sleeves.
Kagame wrote: “Brentford deserved to win and they did. The game itself aside Arsenal and the fans don’t deserve to kind of get used to this.”
“It’s been a struggle of about decade(s) – ups&downs – more downs until this point. Can’t we have a plan that really works?? One part to look at is how we deal in the market – players we buy to execute the plan. The touch&go mentality does not bring change.”
Kagame and his government, who face criticism at home and abroad over their political and human rights record, came to power in 2000. Visit Rwanda also sponsors Paris Saint-Germain.
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