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Leeds United owner defends club's Myanmar tour amid controversy

Leeds have been urged to scrap their Myanmar trip. Ryan Browne/Getty Images

Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani has defended the club's controversial tour of Myanmar next month.

Championship side Leeds have been urged to scrap the trip, which has been described as "morally corrupt" by shadow sports minister Rosena Allin-Khan and questioned by Amnesty International.

But in an open letter to fans on the club's official website, Radrizzani said he had visited the country many times and it was "somewhere very close to my heart."

"The club is not receiving any fee to play," Radrizzani wrote. "Rather I see this both as a personal initiative to support local football and a way to introduce the name of Leeds United in the fastest growing country in southeast Asia.

"I believe the tour will have a positive impact on the local community in parts of the country we intend to visit. This was a carefully considered decision and we knew it would be controversial, but this is about people not governments.

"It has never been my intention, nor that of the club, to get involved in a political debate in Myanmar.

"However, if because of the tour we further highlight the ongoing serious issues in certain areas of the country, then maybe that is a positive thing."

About 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Buddhist-majority Myanmar. Many had their villages burned down, and the UN has reported claims of widespread sexual assault by national security forces.