April 24 (Reuters) - English Championship side Leeds United will travel to Myanmar for their pre-season tour next month despite an army crackdown and the British government’s advice against travelling to some areas in the country.
Leeds are scheduled to play the Myanmar national team on May 9 and will take on the National League’s all-stars in a second friendly two days later.
The team will also conduct football clinics with Myanmar Football Federation academies in Yangon and Mandalay and visit cultural sites including Shwedagon Pagoda and the Maha Myat Muni Pagoda, the club said in a statement here
“Myanmar is one of the fastest-growing nations in southeast Asia and is passionate about English football,” said Leeds managing director Angus Kinnear.
“They have ambitious goals for grass-roots and elite football development that we’re delighted to be able to support. This tour gives us an opportunity to meet new fans who will hopefully support our journey back to the Premier League.”
The United Nations and rights groups say that a Myanmar military operation in the country’s northwest in August has sent nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing to Bangladesh. Rohingya refugees have reported killings, rapes and arson on a large scale.
The United States and the U.N. have described the military crackdown as ethnic cleansing, an accusation Myanmar denies. (Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru Editing by David Goodman )