Leeds United tour to crisis-hit Myanmar sparks criticism

Leeds United tour to crisis-hit Myanmar sparks criticism

Leeds United tour to crisis-hit Myanmar sparks criticism

The Leeds United tour is being planned in partnership with AYA Bank, a Myanmar financial institution.

More than 670,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees have fled Buddhist-majority Myanmar into neighboring Bangladesh since August 2017, bringing with them stories of murder, rape and the destruction of villages at the hands of the Myanmar military.

Radrizzani said he was aware of the "serious issues" in the country but that it was a "beautiful place filled with incredibly warm and welcoming people".

Former English champions Leeds are scheduled to play the Burma national team on May 9 and will take on the National League's all-stars in a second friendly two days later. That is why I wanted to take the team on a post-season tour to play matches and run coaching clinics with children from the area.

Another day, another insane decision in the world of Leeds United Football Club.

"The club is not receiving any fee to play", he said.

Leeds' Italian owner Andrea Radrizzani has business interests in Asia and is the owner of sports content provider Eleven Sports.

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"Myanmar is one of the fastest growing nations in southeast Asia and is passionate about English football", managing director Angus Kinnear said in a statement published on the club website on Tuesday.

The criticism comes as the country falls back into worldwide pariah status due to its treatment of the ethnic Rohingya minority in the country's western Rakhine state.

Some Leeds fans have voiced their anger on social media, while the Leeds United Supporters Trust said it was "a odd and controversial choice, given the unsafe political climate Myanmar now finds itself in".

Both the military and government, which is led by Nobel prize victor Aung San Suu Kyi, have denied any responsibility for the violence.

Myanmar has a troubled history, with claims made of human rights violations and genocide amid political unrest and violence in the country. "But, if the tour does go ahead, the club should use its leverage to call for an end to the crackdown and raise with the Burmese authorities the plight of the hundreds of thousands of families who have been brutalized and forced to flee their homes". "Far too often sporting events have been used as a cheap PR tool to 'sportswash" the stain of a country's human rights record'.

"This tour gives us an opportunity to meet new fans of football who will hopefully support our journey back to the Premier League in the coming years".

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