Leeds United's Myanmar tour

26 April, 2018, 00:40 | Author: Joshua Bennett
  • Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani’s company Eleven Sports owns a TV package in the region

"They have ambitious goals for grass-roots and elite football development that we're delighted to be able to support".

"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.

Since August, more than 647,000 Rohingya refugees have fled Myanmar, Inter-Sector Coordination Group reported on December 12.

'We simply want to use sport to do some good.

Leeds United have announced they will play two matches in Myanmar in a tour sponsored by a bank with close links to the regime accused of ethnic cleansing and human rights abuses against its Muslim Rohingya minority.

"We can't spread our values by turning our backs, we can only do this by engaging".

Andrea Radrizzani, the Italian businessman who became the full owner of Leeds previous year, even suggested the tour may be beneficial in raising awareness of what the United Nations has called a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing".

"We're not going to tell Leeds United where they should and shouldn't visit", Allen added.

She expressed her "dismay" at the plans: 'Leeds United has a fanbase across the world, many of whom will be dismayed by the news.

Radrizzani said he had spent ten years living in Asia and had visited Myanmar on several occasions.

Leeds will be holding football clinics with the Myanmar Football Federation Academies in Yangon and Mandalay.

Amnesty International have described the actions against the Rohingya Muslims in the northern state of Rahkine as genocide.

A statement from the Leeds United Supporters' Trust said the tour was "a odd and controversial choice, given the risky political climate Myanmar now finds itself in", but welcomed reassurances from the club about the safety of travelling fans.

Almost 700,000 of Myanmar's Rohingya Muslim minority have fled the country since August because of ongoing military operations in Rakhine.

In the statement, Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK is quoted as saying that "far too often sporting events have been used as a cheap PR tool to "sportswash" the stain of a country's human rights record".

"The Myanmar authorities have continued the brutal crackdown despite a global outcry".



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