Arsenal Football Club and African mobile network operator Airtel have signed a three-year partnership agreement.

The deal provides Airtel with the opportunity to utilise the Club’s merchandising, hospitality and content rights in five markets: Nigeria, Zambia, Ghana, Uganda and Rwanda.

Click above for Ivan Gazidis' reaction and his message to our fans in Africa

The agreement will help the north London side reach some of its 42million fans across the continent. Airtel customers in Nigeria, Zambia, Ghana, Uganda and Rwanda will have the opportunity to win match tickets to watch this summer’s pre-season tour fixture and receive exclusive Club content and news direct to handsets. In addition to the agreement, Airtel will be designated as the official mobile operator of the 2012 Arsenal Tour to Nigeria.

Arsenal will also support the Airtel Rising Stars football programme, an annual grassroots training initiative that offers young boys and girls the opportunity to play football and compete in a safe environment. Airtel donates money for each goal scored at the tournament to support the players’ education to ensure those involved don’t only get best-in-class sports training and opportunities, but also have better opportunities to further their academic studies. The Gunners will provide UEFA-trained coaches to assist with training in each of the five markets and at an Arsenal Coaching Clinic for up to 50 footballers in London.

Arsenal’s Head of Global Partnerships Vinai Venkatesham added: “I am delighted to welcome Airtel into our family of Commercial Partners. This is the second long-term partnership arrangement to arise from the continent and we look forward to developing a number of exciting initiatives with Airtel, starting with our forthcoming tour to Nigeria in August. This underlines the depth of our following in Africa and how the profile of the Club continues to grow internationally.”

Airtel Africa Chief Marketing Officer, Andre Beyers added:  “Football fans across Africa are known for their passion of the great game. Arsenal’s exciting style of play and a history of working with the best talent from Africa will enrich this partnership and offer a wealth of opportunities for upcoming players and fans. The partnership provides an impetus to the Airtel Rising Stars in some of the countries that have produced amazing young talent and whose youth teams have gone on to win FIFA Youth and Olympic tournaments.’’

It is the Club’s inaugural pre-season tour of Nigeria, having played a fixture in South Africa in 1993. The 2012 visit will feature a game between the Arsenal first-team and the Nigerian National Team the Super Eagles on Sunday 5th August. Airtel is in the process of finalising arrangements that will give selected consumers in the five countries a chance to watch the match and interact with the team in Abuja. The details of the promotion will be announced soon.

Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 28 Jun 2012