Arsenal provokes ‘presidential anger’ in Rwanda’s Paul Kagame

Arsenal FC Head Coach Mikel Arteta (L) and Rwanda's President Paul Kagame (R). [Courtesy]

Rarely does a sitting President take to Twitter to rant about a football club’s performance, more so a football club domiciled 9,950 kilometres away from the President’s home country.

That’s the story of Arsenal FC and Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame. The story of Kigali’s finest and London’s arguably shakiest team in the last 17 years.

The English side lost its debut 2021/22 Premier League match against newcomers Brentford FC, a team playing in the top flight for the first time in its 132-year history.

Arsenal did not lose by a solitary goal, but two. And, Arsenal did not pull a goal back, but went home with nothing in the goals basket.

The North London team fired 18 shots in total, with only three hitting the target. Brentford, on the other hand, had eight shots on goal in the 95-minute match, but only five were away from the target.

To Arsenal fans, who last won a Premier League trophy 17 years ago, it is the same old story. Uncertainty, lack of ambition, lack of progress, torrid times and a bleak future.

The feeling was widely exhibited on Twitter on Saturday, when “Arsenal” pooled close to one million tweets, with supporters globally expressing concern at the team’s too-predictable-yet-frustrating pattern: losses.

Actually, #ArtetaOut was one of the Top Three trending hash tags in Kenya on Saturday morning through the afternoon.

One of Arsenal’s staunchest supporters, who has since September 2019 allocated State funds to market his country on the team’s official jerseys, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, is livid, and he doesn’t want to hide it anymore. After all, who said Presidents don’t angry?

“What?? It's football, it's a loss of Arsenal at/to Brentford. Brentford deserved to win and they did. The game itself aside, Arsenal and the fans don't deserve to kind of get used to this... NO!!! I say this as one of the big[gest] fans of Arsenal. The change has taken too long to come!” he tweeted on Friday, August 13, immediately after Arsenal were condemned to a 2-0 defeat in their maiden 2021/22 EPL match.

As if that outburst wasn’t enough, Kagame went on: “It's been a struggle of about decade(s) – ups and downs – more downs until this point. Can't we have a plan that really works?? One part to look at is how we deal in the market – players we buy to execute the plan. The touch-and-go mentality does not bring change.”

And one last tweet on his profile until now (the publication of this story): “We just must NOT excuse or accept mediocrity. A team has to be built with purpose to win, win, win. So that when we lose... it was not to be expected! I am sure we all know on whose shoulders the heaviest burden rests. I hope they know too, or even accept it!!! End.”

The President is angry. Who will calm the President; is it you, Arsenal FC? Mikel Arteta, over to you!

But before then, let us look at the numbers.

Until now (August, 14, 2021), starting 2006 – when Premier League began recording day-to-day match data – Arsenal has played a total of 1,115 matches.

In the 15 years and the 1,115 matches played, the club has had 597 wins, 237 losses, scored 1,956 goals, conceded 1,102 goals and kept 423 clean sheets. All this while, the club has never had a single EPL trophy. And, we understand why the fans are livid.

It’s because of the elusive EPL trophy won by Leicester City in the 2015/16 season for the first time in its 137-year history.