The rapprochement is confirmed between Rwanda and Qatar, a few days after a highly commented contract with the PSG which links economic and strategic objectives. Decryption.
Rwanda continues its charm offensive. This Wednesday evening, December 11, a few minutes before their last Champions League match against Galatasaray, PSG players will wear a new slogan on their warm-up jerseys: "Visit Rwanda" . Wednesday, December 4, already, during the match Ligue 1 PSG-Nantes, the spectators of the Parc des Princes (and viewers), were able to see billboards promoting tourism in Rwanda. In the stands, the former Miss France and now actress and director Sonia Rolland, and Gael Faye, singer and writer, both French-Rwandan.
Since then, Internet users can see a promotional clip where Neymar, Mbappé or Verratti, the stars of the team, appear in the middle of the most beautiful landscapes of this small country in East Africa, wild animals included. Luxury ambassadors, a "premium partner," as advertisers say.
🆕✍🌄 @ visitrwanda_now # ThisIsRwanda #VisitRwanda #MadeInRwanda pic.twitter.com/ojsRJsZOWNParis Saint-Germain (@PSG_inside) December 4, 2019
According to the weekly Jeune Afrique , the former Cameroonian international Samuel Eto'o played a decisive role in this partnership. At the end of October, the former Barcelona striker - who is also responsible for promoting the 2022 World Cup in Qatar - would have spoken with Rwandan President Paul Kagame during his visit to the emirate. A visit follows the April visit of the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamin Ben Hamad Al-Thani to Rwanda, where he visited Akagera National Park with Paul Kagame. In fact, it has been several years since links were forged between Doha and Kigali, with agreements in the fields of energy, infrastructure and transport. Monday, December 9, Qatar Airways has completed the acquisition of 60% of the new airport Bugesera (45 km from Kigali), still under construction. An entry into the capital of RwandAir is even mentioned.
To hide the negative image of Rwanda
For Rwanda, the partnership with Paris Saint-Germain should allow tens of millions of supporters of the PSG to discover its most attractive aspects: the second country to invest in Africa, according to the World Bank, with a fast-growing economy ( + 8.6% last year); a safe country for expatriates and tourists, which are about 2 million to visit each year. With the objective, obviously, to do much better, by making forget his image of authoritarian regime. It could be helped in this by the Accor hotel group, PSG's main sponsor and huge player in tourism worldwide, especially in Africa.
Since the signing of the contract with the Parisian club, the opponents of the Rwandan regime let burst their anger on social networks. The same type of contract signed in 2018 with Arsenal had also created a strong controversy.
The bloody dictator @PaulKagame plays his all. After @Arsenal a little over a year ago, it's the turn of @PSG_inside. No doubt he believes that the rapprochement with the stars of football will make forget the serious crimes he committed in Rwanda and in the region! https://t.co/Q8Xv5Q6YTHRWANDA DEMOCRACY (@RwandaDemocrati) December 5, 2019
Vis-à-vis France, it is still to mitigate the memory of the genocide that marks 25 years later relations with Paris. A week from Rwanda to Paris must be organized. Collaborations in the fields of fashion, art of living are planned. The tea and coffee of Rwanda will be sold at the Parc des Princes.
PSG looking for fans in Africa
For the PSG, the goal of an alliance with Rwandan tourism officials is above all to rake in new revenue. Endured by great European performances, and therefore considerable gains they generate, the club led by the Qataris is more than ever under the pressure of UEFA and its rules of financial fair play. Harvesting between 8 and 10 million euros per year - according to estimates - is not negligible. The signing with Rwanda adds to many other sponsorship contracts: Accor, Orange, Coca-Cola, Unibet, Renault, to name but a few. Especially since the logo " Visit Rwanda " will not appear on the jerseys during matches, only during training or warm-ups. The mark will however be visible on the sleeves of the jerseys of the women's team. And the PSG will also have to visit Rwanda, certainly as part of an African tour, and publicize it on social networks.
Another advantage for the Parisian club: the possibility of inflating the number of fans. With around 75 million fans around the world today, PSG is far behind other major European clubs. Africa is potentially a huge reservoir. Who says more fans implies sponsorship contracts on the rise. The one with the tourist office of Qatar is for example in renegotiation. Continue to grow, to get closer to Real and Barca who are approaching one billion euros of turnover. To boost its income, Atletico Madrid chose a few years ago Azerbaijan, a country rich in hydrocarbons, as sponsor jersey.
Visibility on all continents
In the end, "a lot of business and not a lot of sport, " observes Vincent Chaudel, founder of the Sport Business Observatory. Certainly, a PSG academy could emerge in Kigali to detect why not some Rwandan players or other neighboring countries. But as for the Shanghai Academy in China, the goal is above all to be visible on all continents. It's already done in Asia with an elaborate commercial strategy, just like in South America, where half of the Paris workforce comes from. And a tour is planned in the United States for the summer of 2020.
So was missing only Africa where until then, it was especially the Olympique de Marseille which had a strong notoriety. OM has its football school in Tunis, perhaps soon a partnership with the Almighty Mazembe in the DRC. But as long as the club Marseille will not retest the peaks on the lawns, it will remain far from the PSG in terms of economic attractiveness.