Arsenal signed a new sponsorship deal with central-east African nation Rwanda. Fans were taken aback by the news – but only because the badge on the sleeve looked ugly.
Back in 2012, during the first matutinal stirrings of what would later come to be known as the First Golden Age of Internet Banter, the hypersensitive tendrils of the viral football cottage industry got extremely excited when Paul Kagame, the president of Rwanda and an Arsenal fan, tweeted that the club could do with a change of coach.
Look, everyone! Even the president of Rwanda is Wenger Out! Lol! Rwanda, which is small and in Africa and therefore extremely funny!
Six years on, with Wenger finally out, and new manager Unai Emery taking possession of the keys to the big coat cupboard and the password to the StatDNA database, it’s hard not to wonder idly whether there was more to all this than initially met the eye. For the announcement of Wenger’s replacement seemed to coincide just a little too neatly with another official Arsenal release, this time unveiling the club’s new shirt-sleeve sponsor and official tourism partner as none other than Visit Rwanda.
With the exact details of the deal under wraps, the mischievous will be tempted to spot a connection between these two developments. Did Kagame, in fact, manage to get a lot more for his cash than simply a few logos on sleeves and post-match interview backdrops? Did he make it a condition of his financial largesse that Arsenal finally act on his tweet from six years ago and install meaningful regime change? Impossible to say, although you suspect the thousands of websites and social media accounts at the vanguard of the Nineteenth Golden Age of Internet Banter (things move pretty fast in these circles) might be tempted to have a good go nonetheless.