Rwanda and the German Football Club Bayern Munich a fortnight ago struck a five-year partnership for football development and tourism promotion – a move that stirred a frenzy of irrationality among white supremacists, Interahamwe, Ibigarasha, and other self-proclaimed critics of Rwanda, who derisively labelled it as “sportswashing.”
This specific partnership came about after President Paul Kagame suggested that Rwanda should seek additional affiliations with prominent football clubs, and the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) clarified that partnering with FC Bayern enables them to reach out to its millions of fans worldwide and encourage them to visit Rwanda.
Against this backdrop, the CEO of the Bundesliga club, Jan-Christian Dreesen, made a statement on Thursday during the Club Association general assembly in Berlin where he aimed to disprove those who concocted fictitious stories claiming the club is engaging in sportswashing to divert attention from human rights abuses in Rwanda.
“We’ve made it clear that we want to support soccer there, the development of soccer. I can’t understand how Rwanda is investing money here to create a better image of itself through sportswashing, so to speak,” Dreesen noted
“It’s clearly — as stated also from Rwanda’s side — that they want to promote the issue of tourism in Rwanda. And i don’t see it as sportswashing that we as a club are promoting that,” he added
On the other hand, Germany is among Rwanda’s top five tourism source markets and RDB brought out clearly that it looks forward to leveraging the partnership with FC Bayern to attract more tourists to Rwanda, showcase investment and business opportunities and encourage all to stay in Rwanda.
The Rwandan Government is actively working to establish the country as a vibrant centre for sports and tourism, and to reinforce this image, maintaining consistent messaging is of utmost importance. Collaborating with FC Bayern plays a significant role in advancing this effort by showcasing Rwanda as an attractive destination for both business and tourism.
Rwanda has experienced unique circumstances, and it is imperative that it adopts a different approach in its reconstruction journey. The critics of Rwanda are merely dwelling on outdated arguments, as Rwanda will continue to thrive despite their constant noise.
It’s worth noting that in 2022, Rwanda’s tourism revenues grew by 171.3%, recording $445 million (Rwf496 billion), from $164 of 2021. The country is poised to further expand her tourism revenue base by partnering with more Soccer teams.