Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani has defended the club's decision to organise a post-season tour to Myanmar.
The club will play two friendly matches, against a Myanmar National League [MNL] All-Star Team and the Myanmar national side, next month in Yangon and Mandalay, in a tour sponsored by AYA Bank.
The planned visit to the politically volatile region has raised concern among supporters, while Amnesty International called on the club to use the trip to raise awareness of the plight of the Rohingya in the northern Rakhine province.
Radrizzani insists the tour is "about people, not governments" and believes local people will benefit from engaging with the club.
In an open letter to fans published on the club's website, he said: "I have spent over 10 years living in Asia and Myanmar is a country I have visited on many occasions. I am aware of the serious issues within the country, but I also know that it is a beautiful place filled with incredibly warm and welcoming people. It is somewhere very close to my heart.
"I also want to be clear that I am active in the Southeast Asia region with ongoing business practices that provide jobs and help to develop the local sports and media sectors. I have similar goals for Myanmar, along with many other British businesses that trade with and operate in the country presently.
"Football is extremely popular in Myanmar and I believe the game we all love has the power to help developing nations by bringing people together, especially young people. 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.
"The club is not receiving any fee to play. 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.
"We simply want to use sport to do some good. I am proud to be active in another region in Southeast Asia where I support via Play For Change, a local NGO in Nepal, in providing sports and educational activities to over 4000 underprivileged children.
"We can't spread our values by turning our backs, we can only do this by engaging. We will go to Myanmar to share the famous values and ethos of Leeds United Football Club."
|Chahal and Dhoni carry India to ODI triumph|
|Levante report Barcelona for alleged use of ineligible player in Copa del Rey|
|Solskjaer regrets Sanchez´s Reading setback|
|Tomic brands Hewitt a ´liar´ as feud continues|
|Ruthless Nadal thrashes teenager De Minaur|
|Wozniacki enjoyed status as defending champion in Melbourne|
|Solskjaer backs Mourinho to return to football´s big time|
|Murray to miss Open 13 Marseille|
|Solskjaer´s United turnaround no easy task, says Hughton|
|The big Friday Premier League quiz|
|How James Harden´s 2018-19 numbers compare to his MVP campaign|
|It´s insane! - Tsitsipas excited to face ´legend´ Federer|
|Sharapova ends Wozniacki title defence|
|American teen Anisimova sends records tumbling at Aus Open|
|Lakers survive Ball´s gaffe to beat Thunder in OT|
|Federer expects ´athletic´ and ´attacking´ Tsitsipas clash|
|Alcacer is fit and available – Favre|
|Fantastic Federer breezes past Fritz|
|Pogba happy with Man United approach under Solskjaer|
|Mickelson leads Desert Classic, ties career-low with 12-under 60|
|Warriors´ Durant on Curry: He´s a once-in-a-generation, once-in-a-lifetime talent|
|Patriots owner says Brady is greatest player, not just quarterback, of all time|
|Inglis to retire from representative duty this year, NRL in 2020|
|Is Beal better without Wall? Wizards star says it´s ´absolutely nonsense´|
|Rockets C Capela undergoes thumb surgery, expected back after All-Star break|
|This Week in U.S. Sports: Irving apologises, Machado´s agent isn´t happy|
|Knicks in woeful shape, but 2019 could still be bright in New York|
|Valverde not worried about Levante´s Copa appeal|
|Nowell an option for England at flanker, reveals Jones|
|Pellegrini: Arnautovic available for the right price|
|Knicks throw away 19-point lead and lose on last-second goaltending call|
|Tebow invited back to Mets´ major league spring training|
|Canelo and Jacobs agree unification fight|
|Barcelona 3 Levante 0 (4-2 agg): Dembele at the double as Barca advance|
|Levante to lodge complaint over Barcelona Copa selection|
|Kanter´s London absence ´very unfortunate´, says NBA commissioner|
|NBA could swap London for Paris in 2020|
|Spurs coach Popovich uncertain if he will return next season|
|Pistons´ Griffin fined for verbal abuse of official|
|Everton do not have financial conditions to enter transfer market - Silva|
|Andy Cole joins Sol Campbell´s coaching staff at Macclesfield|
|Atletico confirm Saul has thigh injury|
|Wood replaces injured Stone in England squad|
|Lebanon 4 North Korea 1: Disciplinary record cruelly denies Radulovic´s men|
|Saudi Arabia 0 Qatar 2: In-form Ali bags brace as Qatar top group|
|Robertson signs new Liverpool deal|
|Vunipola backs Farrell to thrive in solo leadership role|
|People don´t know what´s going on behind the scenes - Mourinho defends United stint|
|Indefatigable Muguruza knocks out Konta at 3:12am|
|Serena coasts, difficulties for Halep and Muguruza´s marathon|
|Lowry retains Abu Dhabi lead|
|Djokovic battles past Tsonga, young guns flourish|
|Louisville airport to be renamed in Muhammad Ali´s honour|
|Emery not thinking about Ozil speculation|
|Sri Lanka hopeful over Kusal Mendis finger injury|
|Oman 3 Turkmenistan 1: Last-gasp Al-Musallami guarantees progression|
|Emery wants Cech to end career ´in a good moment´|
|Japan 2 Uzbekistan 1: Shiotani stunner seals comeback and top spot|
|Calhanoglu deal ´financially impossible´ for Leipzig|
|Not seen at Aus Open since Nadal, Djokovic and Murray in 2009 – ´Next Gen´ make move|
|Martial: Solskjaer lets me express myself|
|Djokovic sees off Tsonga to reach third round|
|Returning Cousins calls Warriors ´the most hated team in sports´|
|Halep injury ´nothing dangerous´|
|Warner picks up elbow injury in Bangladesh|
|Mkhitaryan returning to Arsenal training next week|
|Leeds United pounce for Real Madrid goalkeeper Casilla|
|Watson lights up Gabba before power cut forces abandonment|
|Superb Serena blows Bouchard away|
|Tevez, Hulk, Oscar, Lavezzi - how the CSL stars Dembele is following to China fared|