Kagame slams corruption, witchcraft in Rwandan football

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President Paul Kagame has once again called out witchcraft and corruption in local football, saying the two factors are the reason why he stopped attending local football matches at stadiums.

He made the comments on Wednesday, January 24, during ‘Umushyikirano’ or National Dialogue concluded in Kigali.

Kagame last attended a football match at a Rwandan stadium in 2016 when the country hosted the African Nations Championship (CHAN) during which Rwanda reached the quarterfinals.

The head of state had since not been to a local football match, a decision former Rwanda international and current Amavubi assistant coach Jimmy Mulisa wants him to reconsider and return to the matches considering Rwanda’s perfect start to the 2026 World Cup Qualifiers coupled with the impending completion of state-of-the-art Amahoro National Stadium which is under major upgrade.

“I remember back in the days, you used to come and support us. Some might know that Rwanda recently beat South Africa and we are going to a very nice stadium, we would like to see you back,” Mulisa said.

But Kagame insisted that Rwandan football has been marred by various malpractices, dominated by witchcraft and corruption, which stopped him from attending football games anymore.

“The reason I stopped watching football games was partly because of corruption and witchcraft in tournaments. I can’t be part of that because it is primitive,” Kagame said.

“Once it changes, I will come again.”

This is not the first time that the head of state has raised alarm about such practices in local football.

In August 2023, he criticized those practicing such, saying it is something primitive. He expressed disappointment with football teams’ officials who recklessly spend money on witchcraft instead of using it to buy essential equipment and investing in their teams for productivity.

“Witchcraft is primitive. You should not accept it. If they go to competitions with only this in mind, that’s why they always come back with failure. You must only be absolutely foolish because if you tried something so many times and it doesn’t work, why do you keep repeating it and make it a habit?” he noted then.

In July 2023, the Head of State had tasked officials in charge of football in the country to tackle issues surrounding the game, which include; witchcraft, unprofessionalism, and bribery, and hinted that failure to solve problems in the sports sector would warrant his involvement.

He said that detrimental actions such as witchcraft, bribery, and conflicts with referees divert attention from the development of sports and impede the country’s progress.

“With these actions, sports can go nowhere. These are things that have to stop in the first place,” he emphasized, vowing to dedicate his time and efforts to resolving these issues, similar to his approach in other sectors.


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