Rights group slams A-League star for working with Cambodian general

One of the A-League's marquee signings has copped criticism for managing Cambodia's national football team.

Keisuke Honda and Sao Sokha during a press conference in Phnom Penh.

Keisuke Honda and Sao Sokha during a press conference in Phnom Penh. Source: Getty

Human Rights Watch has urged Japanese A-League star Keisuke Honda to reconsider his recent decision to coach Cambodia's national football team, as he is working with a figure they allege is linked to human rights concerns.

The rights group said Honda is now "linked" with the president of the Football Federation of Cambodia General Sao Sokha.

In addition to the football post, Sokha is the Deputy Supreme Commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, commander of the Royal Khmer Gendarmerie, and a close associate of controversial leader Prime Minister Hun Sen. 

Keisuke Honda on the sidelines at a Cambodia game.
Source: Getty

"Sao Sokha has admitted to playing a key role in Hun Sen's bloody 1997 coup d'etat as the Commander of the Royal Khmer Gendarmerie," the group said in a letter to Honda.

"The then-Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia, Thomas Hammarberg, reported that the GRK headquarters had been used to detain, torture and execute political opponents."

Keisuke Honda plays in the A-League.
Source: Getty

Honda plays for the A-League's Melbourne Victory will continue to do so while managing Cambodia. He was a member of the Japanese national team from 2008 until 2018.

In a statement, Asia director of Human Rights Watch Brad Adams said, "seeing a photo of Keisuke Honda with ... Sokha in August at a news conference was shocking".

SBS News has contacted Melbourne Victory for comment. 

Published 18 December 2018 at 5:15pm, updated 18 December 2018 at 6:08pm
By Nick Baker