Arsenal Signs Shirt-Sponsorship Deal With East Africa's Rwanda

(Bloomberg) -- English Premier League soccer team Arsenal has signed a shirt-sponsorship deal with Rwanda.

The club, one of the world’s biggest, will promote tourism, investment and football in the East African nation under a three-year agreement, the Rwanda Development Board said Wednesday.

The “Visit Rwanda” logo will feature on the left sleeve for all first team, under-23 and Arsenal Women’s matches, according to a statement from the state-run agency. Arsenal players will visit Rwanda and club coaches will host camps to support the development of the game in the country of 12 million people.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Arsenal and showcasing the vibrancy and beauty of our country,” Rwanda Development Board Chief Executive Officer Clare Akamanzi said. “Visit Rwanda and discover why we are the second-fastest growing economy in Africa.”

London-based Arsenal is the sixth-largest soccer club in the world, having generated revenue of 488 million euros ($572 million) in the 2016-17 season, according to Deloitte LLP. It is listed on the NEX Exchange in London and has a market value of $2.9 billion. American billionaire Stan Kroenke, owner of the National Football League’s Los Angeles Rams, is the majority shareholder.

Visit Rwanda

Long-serving manager Arsene Wenger left the club this month and was replaced on Wednesday by Spaniard Unai Emery, former coach of Paris Saint-Germain. Rwandan President Paul Kagame is an Arsenal fan and had criticized Wenger for the team’s lack of success in the past decade.

While Arsenal is one of Europe’s most decorated teams, with 13 top-flight league titles in England, it hasn’t won one since 2004.

Arsenal, which didn’t announce financial details of the deal with the Rwanda Development Board, said in a statement that its shirt is viewed 35 million times a day globally. Emirates, the world’s biggest long-haul airline, pays $40 million a season to be its main shirt sponsor in a deal that expires next year, according to U.K. newspaper the Mirror.

Rwanda had 1.3 million visitors in 2017 and 94,000 tourists visited the three national parks of Nyungwe, Akagera and Volcanoes. Tourism has generated 90,000 jobs and is Rwanda’s largest foreign exchange earner. Gorillas are among the main attractions, with tourists often paying $1,500 each for a license to see the endangered animals.

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