FIFA to Question Cuba over AWOL Players

Joseph Blatter, president of FIFA. photo:

HAVANA TIMES — FIFA president Joseph Blatter will personally request explanations from Cuban sports authorities over the defection of three to four players before the qualifying match against Canada in Toronto last week, reported DPA news.

“This is definitely not just a matter for the Department of Competitions ( of FIFA), but an issue that I will raise on the presidential level [of the Cuban federation] with sports authorities in Cuba to have moved it to its political authorities,” Blatter said in Geneva today to a group of journalists.

“It’s a serious matter we are aware,” he added.

Cuba lost to Canada 3-0 in its match Friday in the Cobcacaf qualifier for the Brazil World Cup 2014.  The island’s team was already out of the running.
The four players who abandoned the Cuban squad are Reisandry Fernandez a midfielder, forwards Elier Cordovés and Maikel Chang and goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper, according to the Café web site.

Team psychologist Ignacio Abreu also abandoned the delegation and along with the players crossed the Canadian border and requested political asylum in the United States.

The Cuba-Canada clash, played at BMO Field in Toronto, belonged to the fifth and next-to-last round of Group C of the CONCACAF qualifying (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football).

It is not new that Cuban athletes seize foreign travel as a possibility to start a new life outside the Communist Party led regime. In 2008, for example, seven players from the national football team stayed in the USA after an international match in Florida.

See related post: Short-Legged Cuba Loses WC Qualifier


One thought on “FIFA to Question Cuba over AWOL Players

  • For a Canadian perspective, in the Toronto Star yesterday, there was a report titled, “U.S. promised land for Cuban athlete defectors”.

    It illustrates the enticements Cubans are offered to leave Cuba that American propagandists like to shove under the carpet. Meanwhile, the US is deporting refugee-seekers from other countries in record numbers.

    From The Star:

    “It’s not surprising that the three Cuban soccer players who disappeared last Thursday, leaving their team to suffer a crushing loss to Canada in a World Cup qualifier, made their way to the United States as soon as they could.

    “Had they stayed in Canada, those players would have to go through the same process as every other refugee claimant, regardless of their native country.

    “But as soon as a Cuban sets foot on American soil, they qualify for refugee status in the United States. After a year of living in the U.S., they can apply for permanent residency and are accepted if they haven’t committed any major crimes.”

    “Sean Rehaag, associate professor at the Osgoode Hall Law School, said that in Canada, even professional athletes have to prove they have a well-founded fear of persecution or risk to life in order to be granted refugee status.

    After the game on Friday, Cuban head coach Alexander Gonzalez lamented the departures of the missing players. “As with any Cuban sport team that travels around the world, they’re all chasing the American dream,” he said. “

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