Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani has again defended his decision to take the club to Myanmar and denied that personal business interests were behind the controversial tour.
Radrizzani said Leeds were in Myanmar to “play football and bring joy to the people” amid ongoing criticism of United’s two-match trip to the Far East state.
Leeds contested their first friendly in Yangon yesterday, losing 2-1 to a Myanmar National League All-Stars team, and will end their tour against Myanmar’s national team in Mandalay tomorrow.
A young squad flew out with head coach Paul Heckingbottom on Monday just 24 hours after the end of the club’s Championship season, pressing ahead with the trip despite calls from MPs and charities for Radrizzani to call it off.
Political tensions and violence in Myanmar led to accusations that Leeds were helping to promote a government accused of ethnic cleansing against Muslims in the country.
Radrizzani insisted ahead of the trip that Leeds would receive no fee for the visit but questions have been raised about whether his other businesses stood to gain from the tour.
The friendlies in Myanmar were organised by Aser, Radrizzani’s investment firm, and Eleven Sports, his TV network, has broadcast contracts in the region.
But Radrizzani told the BBC in Myanmar: “We’re just coming here to play football with our friends from the local football federation. We are not against any government, we are not discriminating (against) anyone, we are against violence and we’re just playing football and bringing joy to the people. We are not making any money out of this game.”
Asked about his business interests, Radrizzani said: “ Yes with other companies. I have a different interest and I have a good relationship with the president of the federation (the Myanmar FA). We are starting a project on the football pitch as well as the media. We’re happy to visit our friends.”