Arsenal and its link with Rwanda under continued scrutiny amidst human rights violations

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Arsenal and its link with Rwanda under continued scrutiny amidst human rights violations

Arsenal under fire for sponsorship renewal

Though Arsenal may be back on track in the Premier League after successive 1-0 wins against Norwich and Burnley after three losses on the spin, the Gunners are facing fresh criticism in the wake of the club making the decision to renew their sponsorship agreement with Visit Rwanda.

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As reported by Football.London, Arsenal have re-upped their lucrative agreement with the Rwandan tourism board that sees the East African nation of 12.6million people pay the north London outfit over £10million annually.

While this helps keeps Arsenal in good financial standing, the fact remains – and cited in the aforementioned article – that the Republic of Rwanda is indeed one of the poorest nations on the globe, with a GDP of just $900 per capita.

On the surface alone, the optics of having a nation with such long-standing financial troubles stump up millions of pounds on a yearly basis to a sporting giant hardly looks good in of itself. But there are even bigger concerns involving the link between Arsenal and the Paul Kagame-led nation.

Long-standing human rights violations

“It’s a controlling, repressive, sinister regime. There’s a good development record, they’ve won brownie points for controlling Covid. But does Arsenal want to be connected with a country with that profile and reputation?” Michela Wrong [quote from Football.London]

Rwanda has a deeply troubling history when it comes to human rights violations, as well as executions of political prisoners and opposition leaders, and civil war.

These concerns have come to a head recently when the British Foreign Office has called upon the current government under Kagame to “conduct transparent, credible and independent investigations into allegations of extrajudicial killings, deaths in custody, enforced disappearances and torture, and bring perpetrators to justice.”

The long-standing and current situation in the African nation has led to the Arsenal Supporters Trust to weigh-in heavily;

“The AST has questioned the morality of this commercial arrangement since it was first announced in 2018. Rwanda is one of the poorest countries in the world and is in receipt of foreign financial aid from many countries including the UK. On any grounds a deal such as this is hard to justify and claims of sportwashing by a regime that is coming under increasing scrutiny is difficult to refute.

Disappointingly Arsenal appear to have lost its moral compass in its desire to maximise revenues and in the absence of any ESG [environmental, social and governance] framework at the club unpalatable deals such as this will remain unchecked.”

Arsenal in the firing line over renewal of Visit Rwanda sponsorship and domestic human rights violations

COMMERCE CITY, COLORADO – JULY 15: Josh Kroenke the Arsenal Director with Stan Kroenke the Arsenal Owner before the match between Colorado Rapids v Arsenal at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on July 15, 2019 in Commerce City, Colorado. (Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

And in a period where so many aspects in and around Arsenal remain divisive under the KSE ownership flag, this is another issue where the manner in which the club hierarchy navigate potentially troubling waters is paramount to the optics around its ownership and how things move forward in a long-term approach.

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