Burundi Withdraws from Basketball Africa League in Pretoria Amidst Tensions with Rwanda

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
3 Min Read
Basketball

The Burundian basketball club, participating for the first time in its history in the fourth season of the Basketball Africa League (BAL) in Pretoria, withdrew from its Sunday match against FUS Rabat. The players refused to wear jerseys featuring the logo of the official sponsor, “Visit Rwanda,” which had been obscured by a strip of black tape. This symbolic refusal highlights the ongoing tensions between Burundi and Rwanda.

Have the players of Dynamo Burundi Basket Club bid farewell to their ambitions due to political interference? This decision comes at a considerable cost to the Burundian club. Despite an impressive victory in their first match, observers were troubled by a minor detail: the concealed “Visit Rwanda” logo.

After the match, coach Julien Chaignot preferred to focus on the sporting aspect. “Upon arrival, we discovered the jerseys like that, and we didn’t dwell on it. I told my players not to pay attention to it, to stay focused on what we had to do because unfortunately, we cannot control these aspects; we don’t choose what goes on the jerseys,” he remarked.

A Hidden Logo

The president of the Burundian Basketball Federation, Apostle Jean-Paul Manirakiza, confirmed that he had requested the logo not be worn. His email was sent an hour before the match.

“I sent the message that Dynamo players could play without the logo of the official sponsor. When they concealed it, they did not consult me. We also asked if they could wear another jersey without the logo of the official sponsor. For us, it would not cause any problem,” he explained.

In January 2024, Burundi closed its borders with Rwanda after accusing Kigali of harboring the leadership of Burundian rebels, Red-Tabara, and subsequently expelled Rwandan nationals from its territory.

However, Rwanda is a major partner in this basketball competition: besides the “Visit Rwanda” sponsorship, the airline “Air Rwanda” is also a partner. Not to mention that the final is scheduled to be held in Kigali, the capital.

Weafrica24

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