Has Arsenal ‘lost its moral compass’ over new Rwanda sponsorship deal

Despite criticism and pleas to reconsider, Arsenal have gone ahead and renewed their sponsorship deal with Rwanda’s tourism board.

The Arsenal Supporters Trust has accused the Gunners of having ‘lost its moral compass in its desire to maximise revenues.’

That’s based on Arsenal doing business with a country that has such a poor human rights record. The United Nations and the UK Foreign Office have all raised concerns, with claims that critics of President Kagame have been disappearing and/or being murdered.

One Government in Europe has threatened to stop their funding to the African nation due to how much money they are paying us. They rightly question why the UK for example is providing 60 million to help the country only for then 10 million to be spent on having their name on a football club’s sleeve and round a stadium. That’s 10 million that could contribute to much needed education or hospitals.

Arsenal’s official stance has always been that they are ‘working to challenge perceptions and Rwanda’s story of culture, heritage and transition, as well as raising awareness of the country being a luxury holiday destination.’

One year into the partnership, tourism from Europe increased by 22 percent.

It shows Mr Kagame’s action plan is working, associating himself with PSG, basketball, cycling and being a constant on social media to present a positive image to the West.

It’s called Sports Washing.

No different to Saudi Arabia for years now paying to host major wrestling and boxing events to direct publicity away from a poor human rights record.

So unfortunately, this goes on all the time.

How many of us will watch a World Cup in Qatar knowing full well the abuse of migrant workers (including deaths).

Why are England not boycotting playing in a country where being homosexual is illegal and women are suppressed?

That’s not to say because others do one thing we have to copy.

Of course, Arsenal could for moral reasons not work with Rwanda, but it would invite lots of questions of why they turn their cheeks concerning other nations politics.

Ideally politics should be separate from sport, but it’s got to be one or the other.

You either allow the two or mix or you don’t. You can’t pick and choose which nations’ ethos you agree with.

Who makes that decision?

What is it based on?

For example, many want Arsenal to be noble and take a moral stance against one Rwanda, yet this is the same business who distanced themselves away from Ozil’s comments when he criticised China’s treatment of Uighurs.

If you don’t want to get involved in political issues with China, then you can’t with Rwanda…

What’s your opinion Gooners?

Have the Club Lost its Moral Compass?

Be Kind In The Comments

Dan Smith


  1. The only reason Kagame is using Arsenal to advertise Rwanda tourism is because he is a big fan. He could easily have used another club who without a doubt would have welcomed that sponsorship with open hands.

    They are advertising Rwanda tourism how can that be said to be a waste of money?

    1. Very good point HH,the numbers speaks for themselves,10M for an increase of 22% in tourism, that’s a lot of jobs created and money going straight into people’s pockets and into the local economy,also I think that it is naive to think that foreign aid is just that,no 60M “buys” the UK the right to do business with Rwanda(import&export),I don’t know much about it but one thing I do know is that the UK is the biggest investor in the tea industry in Rwanda,they also export a lot of machineries and pharmaceuticals, anyway my point being that the UK get back more than the 60M foreign ‘aid”.

  2. So maybe Arsenal should never accept sponsorship from America or Britain thanks to their human rights records in the Middle East? Football clubs should not have to think about these things.

    1. Exactly. And it’s a shame this article got published. A very one-sided perspective on the world that has no sensitivity towards the readers and the corners of the world which they are from.

      Here’s a suggestion, let’s talk about the potential of saka – esr – patino. Will this future bring rewards?

      1. Kagame is an arsenal fan, that’s why he even brought Rwanda tourism advert to arsenal. He would have take it to other clubs that can warmly accept the offer.

  3. Interesting article. I think its very well written and thought out. I would like to challenge the part where rewards is compared to Qatar and Saudi. These are countries that have alot of haves. By this I mean we see how oil money and rich prince’s has affected our beloved sport. In contrast rawanda is much poorer and whilst it does have its own set of politics I do beleive tourism is helping the country move away from poverty.

    Whilst the methods with Qatar and Saudi are simular or the same the end goals are different. Paul Kagame is trying to build Rawanda in a legitimate fashion and give jobs to 100s and 1000s.

    I think this deal benefits both arsenal and Rawanda. Rawandas economy has been and is growing and I hope it continues to do so. I am actually proud that my club has been able to help an entire country.

    Thank you

  4. Dan…

    I do understand your point of view, however, I do not think it is an easy issue that can be diagnosed thoroughly and justifiably in a single article. Nevertheless, a great try!

    The Rwandan issue is quite deep and we cannot begin to examine it externally based on reports from sources that are remain typically unjustifiable.

    I have always felt that Rwanda’s journey from such depth of human atrocities to the point were they are presently, is beyond imagination. It could only have been achieved by a leader with such a great heart. To note that outright revenge was not sought by the leader is truly worth commending. Therefore, there is no doubt that certain highhandness will always be needed in order to stem the several extremists that may not want the progress of the land. There are many hutus who still do not fancy the tutsi rulership, and they will present themselves as oppositon, albeit with ulterior motives.

    Summarily, while there are reports of human rights violation, I do not think we can judge the leader and the involvement of Arsenal in trying to help promote the country.

    No one is perfect, and there will always be the good and bad. All we need to be concerned with is the intention behind the motive, which is to move Rwanda away from their horid past.


    1. Rwanda had a genocide commited against them, one of the worst in history. They are stabilising now and are trying to be a modern nation. We should be happy that a modern African nation is doing so well, and has a supporter in Paul Kagame The moral question is to actually support Rwanda. Think about their recent history….a genocide against them and now plenty of dark deliberate propaganda against them. We’ve seen dark propaganda against our Jewish friends and now the dark propaganda is against Rwanda. I for one am happy to see Paul Kagame’s support.

      1. Hi Sean…

        I do agree with you!

        There will always be isolated cases of human rights violations, however, it becomes worrisome when it scales up to some pandemic level, such as the case of the horrific Rwandan genocide.

        All credit to Kagame for being able to make a society out of that deep hideous mess! For now, it may be argued that only Kigali may be seeing such development, nevertheless, it is worth all the commendation!

        On the other hand, quite a number of good results from the Arsenal, hope it spells well for the NLD!


  5. Unfortunately, morality doesn’t seem to be the highest priority anymore in EPL. Now it’s more about the fair shares and opportunities among the EPL clubs

    If we argue about morality, you should’ve questioned Arsenal about their decision on using an oligarchy’s money to build their new stadium or Chelsea/ Man City for similar reasons. As long as no club does another Calciopoli, forms an exclusive league or breaches FFP rules, nobody will bat an eye in EPL

  6. Read Michela Wrong’s book ‘Do Not Disturb’ to understand the brutal, corrupt man – a fan – whose murderous rule Arsenal is sportswashing. As a South African who saw the crucial role the sports boycott played in overcoming apartheid I don’t buy the ‘sports teams don’t have a moral obligation’ line. I also believe that Arsenal should not take money from ‘Western’ companies involved in human rights abuses, such as BAE, Lockheed etc who are making billions from their weapons killing innocent civilians in Yemen in war crimes. You are either an ethical club or you are not. You cannot claim to have ethical values while promoting a brutal, corrupt autocrat. I know which I’d prefer my club to be!

  7. We all justify our own hypocrisy and codemn the hypocrisy of others. It’s how all we roll.
    Arsenal fans call Tottenham the filth yet talk of being classy. Of course Spurs fans do exactly the same calling Arsenal the filth and claiming the moral high ground.
    The United states demanded the boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics because of the Russian invasion of Afghanistan then in 2001 the USA invaded Afghanistan themselves and stayed 20 years.
    As the writer says Qatar bought the 2022 World cup and not a word of protest by the average fan. Arsenal is not too proud to accept milions from Emirates. Man City and PSG are drowning in Gulf Oil money while Chelsea float on Russian gas. Players like Marcus Rashford are not shy about accepting obscene salaries yet expect the Government to pay for school lunches.
    Life is riddled with complex decision making.
    Buying everyday products which we all no require the slaughter of innocent animals, or are known to be dangerous to the environment or made by people enduring horrific working conditions is just part of life. As long as we refocus on others we can avoid detection about our own sins. Glass houses or casting the first stone come to mind.

    1. While you make a valid point on hypocrisy, comparing the Russian invasion to the American invasion is absolutely absurd. The Russians invaded Afghanistan under a pretext of upholding a treaty between the countries, foregoing any valid attempts at diplomacy. The Americans invaded to catch a mass murderer—and to prevent further terrorist attacks on home soil—who killed thousands of innocent ppl in a cowardly attack on 9/11/2001 (over 300 of which were non-Americans). Further, the Russian invasion resulted in somewhere from 500,000 – 2 MILLION Afghani casualties, whereas the American invasion resulted in under 200,000 casualties (many of whom were Taliban fighters) despite being a war that lasted twice as long as the Russian invasion.

      An unthinking and unfounded comparison, though you are correct that hypocrisy runs rampant.

    2. FAIRFAN YOU ARE SAYING PRECISELY WHAT I HAVE SAID FOR MANY DECADES PAST . That all humans are hypocritical and it is a normal part of our shared human condition. The Rwanda matter is very complicated with many shades of opinion and shades of grey and not black or white in any way.

      My own view is and has always been that no club should ever be associated in any direct way or accept money from shady and/ or corrupt enterprises, people, corporates or countries.

      But the depressing fact is that all elite level football is deeply corrupt and getting more so each year that passes. We need a sea change in social attitudes and a universal recognition that we nearly all chase the wrong life values, IMO!

  8. Morality&football for me shouldn’t be used in same sentence because football as we know it is anything but moral…&talking of Rwanda,i hope real Rwandans should reflect deeply about what happen to Gaddafi&Libya before paying heed to all the talk of Kagame being evil because i know many Libyans are praying for such days as those of Gaddafi but can’t have it anymore..Kagame is just a progressive leader whose aim is to raise the image of Rwanda to the world,something no other African leader dreams of doing.i believe he should be commended&not judged based on human right record because no politician is clean,they all has their dark sides.

  9. Talking of discrimination against homosexuals in some countries,i know for a fact that Catholics are not allowed to become prime ministers or hold a high political position in Britain,even till today&they pride themselves to be morally sound&anyone who doesn’t agree with their ethos becomes immoral

  10. Being sponsored by a country is something else. It should not even be a consideration. Football clubs should simply not go there.

  11. If the western world looses its grip on a third or so world nation these are the type of things you will hear.. Africa and Africans know the usual “oh people are missing from the opposition” narrative. For us Africans seeing the evil that happened in Rwanda in this modern era and how the country has strived to rebrand its image it is only wickedness from the pits of hell that will want to destroy what the Rwandans have been able to build since the 90’s. I don’t want to blame the western world for what happened at Rwanda because if you support an evil man to destroy his brothers and sisters secretly hide him in your country then I don’t know what makes you different from him.. if you have information about a planned genocide and fail to warn the people instead get only your people out of harms way I wonder what makes you different from the killers and if you ever think a country that has gone through one of the most difficult situations in modern history should go back to fighting each other because of western propaganda then you have no human conscience.. we don’t need the western world to define what goes on in Africa we are here and we know the truth.. Felicien and his associates were all western puppets.. Kagame on the other hand is from the roots of Sankara and Ojukwu for these guys the western overlords have no room to control their affairs.. I have to also point out that 95% of African leaders are western puppets tho which is not short of embarrassing but we are all happy Kagame is not so bottom line let’s stick to football and leave politics for whom it may concern!!!

  12. He is s typical 3rd world dictator but he seems to have the vast majority approval from his citizens. Wish he was not oppressing his opponents.

    Kagame has transformed Rwanda since 1994. That little tiny country is starting to be the envy of it’s much bigger neighbours.
    The guy has a dictatorial hand but the vast majority of Rwandese seem to appreciate what he is doing for the country. The guy is building strong institutions in his country and providing services.

    He is willing to do anything to put Rwanda on the global market. Recently he ordered a batch of Airbuses in order to push start the country’s Airline.

    Has built one of the most beautiful airports in the region. The moment you land at the airport you are ordered to leave all your visible plastic bags (wrappings) at the airport or be fined or won’t be allowed to get out of the airport.

    Kigali has been voted as the most green and cleanest city in the entire Africa

    He has upgraded the country’s infrastructure (Roads, schools, Hospitals etc).

    Just listen to the people from the neighbouring East African countries. Most wish they had a dictator like Kagame as their president because he is a dictator that is trying his best to put Rwanda on the world map.

  13. Morality and ethics don’t come into any decision. If it makes money and isn’t illegal let’s do it – it’s the Kroenke way and always will be. We have to accept our club’s values and classiness have taken a dive since we became fully owned dictatorship when SK finally acquired a 100% shareholding.

    It is what it is, even if Kroenke were to sell up there is no guarantee the new owner will do things differently.

  14. I meant to add that the only difference between Kroenke and Abramovic is the latter is a real Chelsea fan and it shows!!

    1. Is he? I don’t think so. If he was a fan of chelsea he wouldn’t have tried buying Arsenal at first. He bought chelsea because their value was considerably lower than Arsenal’s and that the owners weren’t ready to sell also forms part of the reasons. What I can only say about Abramovic is that he is a passionate owner who wants to see the club succeed rather than just making money.

      1. He may not have been a fan when he bought the club 18 years ago but isn’t it possible he is one now? Apparently he was interested in buying the Spuds but didn’t like the neighbourhood, he preferred West London where he had an apartment!!

      2. @OTS
        But how does one become a fan?
        We all have different things that drew us to Arsenal like any other fan.
        With Abramovich it was that Chelsea became available at the right time for him to buy them. And after owning them for nearly 2 decades he surely must be a supper chelsea fan today.

        How did you become an Arsenal fan? You weren’t born supporting Arsenal, something about Arsenal must have contributed to you choosing the club (Family connections, friends, a certain player, a certain style of play, your geography, a certain manager etc. Or even you became a fan by coincidence like I did myself.

  15. Drayton….America invasion of middle-east is about petrodollers and nothing else…….and Afghanistan also sits on 3 million tons of lithium..the future of electric vehicles depends on it……..as for Rwanda..a peaceful and stable country with very little crime and corruption…a progressive economy and poverty is declining……Rwandans are decent people….a beautiful country..and a great tourist destination……..that’s why Arsenal chose Rwanda……..just that the president is for the people and show the elite the middle finger….and the media don’t like him……apart from that………thank you Arsenal…great choice

  16. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”
    How about we question how much the workers are paid in Asia for the sports shoes, including football boots, worn by Arsenal players and sold to us at a massive mark up?

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