Posted on October 13, 2012
FIFA confirmed on Saturday that three Cuban players who were supposed to participate in Friday’s World Cup qualifying match against Canada in Toronto have defected.
In an email to The Associated Press, FIFA said that three players had defected. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials would not confirm reports that three men tried to cross into the United States at Niagara Falls, the AP reported.
The players’ names were not released by FIFA.
With one sick player left at the team hotel, Cuba could use only 11 players and no substitutes in its CONCACAF Group C game with Canada at BMO Field. Canada won the encounter, 3-0.
At first, Cuba coach Alexander Gonzalez did not want to talk about the defections, but finally relented.
“As with any Cuban sport team that travels around the world, they’re all chasing the American dream,” he told reporters after the game. “And it’s difficult to try to keep the team together. . . . Obviously it’s a difficult situation for the team and it’s tough for me to talk about it.”
Since 2002, 21 Cuban players have defected to the U.S.
During the CONCACAF women’s Olympic qualifying tournament in Vancouver in January, two Cuban women international players defected to the U.S.
During the conederation’s men’s qualifying competition in Nashville, Tenn. in March, a men’s player defected.
Cuba closes out its qualifying schedule by hosting Panama in a match on Friday, while Canada visits Honduras.
Categories: Caribbean, Cuba, World Cup Qualifying
Tags: Alexander Gonzalez, Associated Press, CONCACAF, CONCACAF men's Olympic qualifying tournament, CONCACAF women's Olympic qua, FIFA, U.S. Customs and Border Profection