Italian club AS Roma on Wednesday become the first European club to launch an official Swahili Twitter account, allowing it to interact with millions of fans who speak and understand the language.
The club’s president Jim Pallotta had promised fans they would launch the account following requests to do so in response to the club congratulating Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge on running a marathon in under two hours on Saturday.
According to Roma, the tweet was well-received in Kenya, that followers began asking the club to launch a Swahili account.
After surprising followers with a reply in Swahili, Pallotta used his own personal Twitter account the following morning to confirm that the club would indeed launch an official Roma Swahili account this week.
“Kama mnahitaji ukurasa wa As Roma wa Kiswahili kweli mnastahili kuwa nao. Unawajia muda si mrefu. Amani na upendo kwenu nyote,” he posted in his personal Twitter account.
The club’s English Twitter account has frequently tweeted in Swahili from time to time in the recent past and the reactions from their Swahili-speaking fans have been received well.
“We’re delighted to launch AS Roma Swahili on Twitter today. After we launched a Pidgin account in March, we’ve been inundated with requests from fans in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and from other Eastern and South-Eastern African countries asking for an official Swahili account,” said Paul Rogers, Head of Strategy at AS Roma.
“Considering the passion the fans have for European football, it’s actually surprising that no football club outside of Africa has attempted to communicate daily in Swahili and Pidgin before on social media,” he added.
He said the new Twitter account will allow them to directly engage with these fans in a way that suits them and is consistent with their strategy of breaking down the communication barriers between the club and their global fan base.
The launch of the new Swahili account means AS Roma now communicates in 14 different languages on social media – with official accounts also in Italian, English, Arabic, Indonesian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Bosnian, Turkish, Dutch, Farsi, Pidgin and Chinese.
The club, which has a massive social media following, this year partnered with Missing Children Kenya to help raise awareness for missing children.
During the summer transfer period, they took a completely different approach to announcing new signings in an effort to use the club’s extensive digital media to help find missing children in Kenya.
Last month, the club announced that a 13-year-old Kenyan boy, who featured on Twitter alongside Henrikh Mkhitaryan when the midfielder secured his loan move from Arsenal, had been found and reunited with his family.
According to the club, the 13-year-old was found on the same day that Mkhitaryan registered his first goal for Paulo Fonseca’s men against Sassuolo.
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