Human Rights Watch has condemned Bayern Munich’s partnership with the African country of Rwanda, citing concerns over human rights violations in the country.
The five-year deal, which includes football development and tourism promotion under the “Visit Rwanda” campaign, has drawn criticism from rights groups and Bayern fans alike.
This partnership comes after Bayern opted not to renew their sponsorship with Qatar Airways, which had faced similar criticism from human rights organisations. Many had hoped that Bayern’s decision to change sponsors signalled a commitment to human rights, but HRW Germany director Wenzel Michalski asserts that the partnership with Rwanda proves otherwise.
Michalski argues that Rwanda is a poor choice for Bayern’s partnership, as the country is known for its disregard of human rights. The Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the governing party in Rwanda, has been accused by HRW of targeting individuals deemed to be a threat to the government. The accusations include violations of the rights to a fair trial, freedom of expression, and privacy. Other reports from Amnesty International have alleged enforced disappearances, torture, and excessive use of force.
Bayern’s CEO, Jan-Christian Dreesen, sees the partnership as an opportunity for the club to expand its reach into Africa and tap into the continent’s potential. He stated that Africa is a continent full of opportunities, and this partnership is a crucial step in the internationalisation of FC Bayern.
On the other hand, Clare Akamanzi, CEO of the Rwanda Development Board, sees the partnership as a means to attract Bayern’s millions of global fans to visit Rwanda. She believes that this collaboration will help showcase Rwanda’s beauty, culture, and tourism potential to a wider audience.
While Bayern Munich may have had good intentions in expanding their football development and promoting tourism through this partnership, it is important to acknowledge and address the concerns raised by HRW. Human rights violations should never be disregarded or ignored in the pursuit of such partnerships.
It is crucial that Bayern Munich, as a leading football club with a global reach, takes a stand on human rights and ensures that its partners also uphold these values. By setting an example and demanding accountability from its partners, Bayern can use its influence to promote positive change and contribute to the improvement of human rights worldwide.