EAST AFRICA Politics RWANDA Sports

Rwanda: Witchcraft and Corruption stopped President Kagame from attending football matches 

Once more, President Paul Kagame has denounced corruption and witchcraft in local football, citing these two issues as the reasons he stopped going to games at stadiums.

He made the comments on Wednesday, January 24, during the national dialogue “Umushyikirano” in Kigali.

When Rwanda hosted the African Nations Championship (CHAN) in 2016, Kagame was not present at a football game played in a Rwandan stadium. Rwanda advanced to the quarterfinals of the competition.

Since then, the head of state has avoided attending local football matches. Former Rwandan international and current assistant coach Jimmy Mulisa wants him to change his mind and attend games again, especially in light of Rwanda’s unbeaten start to the 2026 World Cup Qualifiers and the upcoming completion of the state-of-the-art Amahoro National Stadium, which is undergoing significant renovations.

“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.

However, Kagame maintained that he no longer went to football games because Rwandan football was tainted by a number of wrongdoings, chief among them witchcraft and corruption.

“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 frequent them again.”

The head of state has previously expressed concern about these kinds of practices in local football. 

He denounced those who practiced it in August 2023, calling it archaic. He expressed dissatisfaction with football team officials who carelessly spend money on witchcraft rather than putting it toward purchasing necessary equipment and enhancing their squads for increased output.

“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 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.

The Head of State ordered the nation’s football administrators to address issues related to the game in July 2023, including bribery, witchcraft, and lack of professionalism. He also suggested that if the sports industry failed to address these issues, he would take personal responsibility for the situation.

According to him, bad acts like bribery, witchcraft, and altercations with referees detract from the advancement of sports and hinder the nation.

“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.

He made the remarks during the national dialogue ‘Umushyikirano’ [Paul Kagame/ Flickr]

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