It looks like Arsenal won’t be touring Nigeria this summer after all. The Premier League club announced on July 5th that they’ll be postponing their trip to Africa, which was scheduled for August 5th. They were supposed to meet the country’s national team, known as the Super Eagles, on that date at the National Stadium in Abuja.
The team released a statement on its official website that said, "The Club has taken the decision as a result of complexities linked to the planned game against Nigeria on Saturday, August 5 in Abuja."
Angus Kinnear, who is the Gunners marketing director, said that taking a top-level football club to an international venue is always quite challenging and complicated and Arsenal felt there wasn’t enough time for Nigeria to satisfy the squad’s requirements. Because of this, he said they have reluctantly postponed the game.
He added that Arsenal has a huge, loyal following in parts of Africa and they’re sorry that things couldn’t be worked out for this year, but they plan on visiting for a game next year. Kinnear said Nigerian supporters will be treated to some exciting upcoming activities in the next few weeks though with some of Arsenal’s commercial partners, such as Airtel, Malta Guinness, and Emirates.
When Arsenal do finally make it to Nigeria, it’ll be their first official trip there and the team’s first visit to Africa in the past 18 years. However, while Kinnear didn’t get into the specifics of the “complexities” the team was facing, the announcement to postpone the match comes just a few days after a bomb went off near a shopping mall in the nation's capital city of Abuja, where the game was to be played.
There have been problems in the past with radical Islamist insurgents and security in the nation has been heightened. Arsenal will still be touring Asia though, where they are scheduled to take on a Malaysian XI on July 24 in Kuala Lumpur. They’ll then head to China to face Manchester City on July 27th in Beijing before wrapping up their tour on July 29th in Hong Kong where they’ll kick off against Kitchee FC.