Activists Call Leeds United's Myanmar Soccer Tour a 'Disgrace'

Leeds United announced the tour of the Southeast Asian nation on Tuesday morning

Leeds United announced the tour of the Southeast Asian nation on Tuesday morning

Andrea Radrizzani has been urged by the shadow sports minister, Rosena Allin-Khan, to scrap the "morally corrupt" tour due to "ethnic cleansing" and human rights abuses against the Rohingya people in Burma.

Foreign Office guidance warns against all but essential travel to several parts of Burma but Leeds are to contest friendlies outside the most volatile zones during a commercial tour sponsored by AYA Bank.

The United Nations and rights groups say almost 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh since a military operation in Rakhine state began in August.

'I am aware of the serious issues within the country, but I also know that it is a lovely place filled with incredibly warm and welcoming people.

Leeds will play two friendly matches in the country, against an all-star team from Myanmar's National League on May 9 before they take on the national team 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.

Leeds United's Tom Pearce celebrates a goal with teammates.

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

"Myanmar is one of the fastest growing nations in south-east Asia and is passionate about English football", Kinnear said.

More than 70 people were killed in Burma in August a year ago after attacks on the police and military bases.

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.

The decision to tour Myanmar has sparked security and health fears and raised ethical questions.

Amnesty International issued a statement calling it an "odd choice of country to choose to tour".

"Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled crimes against humanity in Rakhine State to neighbouring Bangladesh; those who remain continue to live under a system amounting to apartheid".

"Far too often sporting events have been used as a cheap PR tool to "sports wash" the stain of a country's human rights record", she said.

Myanmar denies accusations its military crackdown constitutes ethnic cleansing. He is also considered to be a close ally of the current regime and Suu Kyi.

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