Tue06192018

LAST_UPDATETue, 19 Jun 2018 12am

Leeds United To Tour Myanmar Despite Military Crackdown

Leeds United will go on a post-season tour of Myanmar, despite an ongoing military crackdown in the country.

The two games scheduled for May are in areas in which Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) guidance is to "check travel advice before travelling".

The FCO advises against "all but essential travel" in some other areas of Myanmar, also known as Burma.

The United Nations described the issues in the northern Rakhine province as a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing".

The Championship club's social media accounts have advised fans "to wait for further advice" before arranging travel to the country.

The two matches will be on 9 and 11 May against a Myanmar National League All-Star team in Yangon, also known as Rangoon, and the country's national team in Mandalay.

"Myanmar is one of the fastest growing nations in South East Asia and is passionate about English football," said Leeds managing director Angus Kinnear.

"They have ambitious goals for grassroots and elite football development that we are delighted to be able to support. 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."

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

Leeds say players and coaches will run football sessions with local children and will visit cultural sites, such as Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, and the Maha Myat Muni Pagoda in Mandalay.

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

Myanmar's government, which does not give the Rohingya citizenship and sees them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, says it is fighting militants and has denied targeting civilians.

-BBC