WikiLeaks: Burma Considered Buying Manchester United?

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In 2008, as Burma struggled to recover from a cyclone that killed 140,000, the ruling junta mulled a $1 billion shopping spree. On their wish list? A soccer club.

It turns out Than Shwe, the general who heads the country’s military junta, is, among other things, a sports fan.

(Read: “Burma: Death on the Irrawaddy Delta.”)

That year, as Burmese languished on muddy flood plains, he thought it might be nice to own his favorite team. And, according to cables newly released by WikiLeaks, his grandson heartily agreed.

For Burma, where poverty is endemic, spending $1 billion on a soccer team would seem extravagant under any circumstance. But in the aftermath of the cyclone, the deal would have been outrageously callous — even downright cruel.

The Generals ultimately decided a bid would indeed “look bad.” So they spent the country’s money closer to home, building (what else?) soccer stadiums — a dirty play by any book. (via the Guardian)

(Find out what the World Cup choices tell us about the world.)