‘The United States is afraid of Cuba, even in soccer’

The Biden administration deprived the Cuban soccer team of its opportunity to participate in the Gold Cup qualifiers, denying visas to its eleven member team. The Canadian sports media is silent. So too is the Canadian Soccer Association, which together with its sponsor Scotiabank has ambitions following the Canadian government. Instead of acting to end the US brutal blockade now, it is appeasing the U.S. and looking to reverse Canada-Cuba relations. It must be called on to cease and desist.

Cuba’s national soccer team. Photo: Twitter.

By Oscar Sánchez Serra

(July 9, 2021) – The United States should no longer be invited to host international sporting events if it is not capable of accommodating the entire athletic family. It should be declared a country non grata for sports. Its selective eligibility criteria override international and regional federations and, what is worse, undermine their authority.

Now the Biden administration, following the same route of his predecessor Donald Trump, deprived the Cuban soccer team of its opportunity to participate in the Gold Cup qualifiers, denying visas to our eleven member team, which had been training hard in Guatemala and Nicaragua, complying with all anti-covid-19 protocols. The tears of the Cuban soccer players were tears of rage, not mourning, given the politically motivated exclusion and discrimination that, once again, violate their right to represent their country.

“The United States is afraid of Cuba, even in soccer,” stated the director of the Costa Rican newspaper La Libertad, Martin Rodriguez, quoted by Prensa Latina. “The criminal U.S. blockade against Cuba has prevented them from participating in the Gold Cup, while FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) and Concacaf (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) remain silent before the imperial masters.”

Concacaf is the regional organization presumably governed by the rulings and regulations of FIFA, a global body that, among its postulates, states that governments cannot intervene or interfere in its policies or those of its tournaments. We should ask ourselves if such precepts do not apply to the United States, or if the money generated, in a venue like this one in Florida, allows for rule changes.

It is disgraceful that Concacaf and FIFA have not made a single statement addressing this infamy, not even after Cuba’s request to postpone the game scheduled for Saturday, July 3, until the travel documents were ready. Can these organizations be trusted when they abandon one of their member nations, which earned the right to be present in a tournament like the Gold Cup?

Cuba has never denied a visa to a single U.S. athlete, or to one of any other nationality, creed or political opinion. What it has always done is facilitate their stay and guarantee them the best conditions. The history of the U.S. however includes a long list of misdeeds of this type, targeting coaches, athletes and even central figures on the Cuban Olympic Committee.

U.S. athletes have also been victims of this punitive policy. In 1965, the legendary chess player Robert Fischer was denied a visa to travel to Havana, to play in the Capablanca memoriam tournament. He did so by teletype from the Marshall Chess Club in Manhattan, the same place where the Cuban genius had collapsed due to his blood pressure, years earlier. In 1966 Fischer was able to compete in the Chess Olympiad held in the Cuban capital, apparently feeling completely at ease, despite the three FBI agents watching over him.

What is the United States afraid of? Let the Costa Rican colleague respond: “The U.S. is afraid of Cuba, of its self-determination, of its freedom, of its immense love and solidarity with humanity, sending doctors and teachers to the darkest corners of the world, when the U.S. sends bombs, destruction and death.”

This is why the U.S. government attacks our people, athletes, artists and intellectuals, doctors and scientists, children, youth and women. But in this other “soccer game,” its fear only does the empire in. Cuba has not stopped scoring goals against its policies.


Note by TS

Concacaf, The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football, abbreviated as CONCACAF (/ˈkɒnkəkæf/ KON-kə-kaf; typeset for branding purposes since 2018 as Concacaf), is one of FIFA‘s six continental governing bodies for association football. In May 2016 Victor Montagliani, leader of the Canadian Soccer Association, was elected as its president of CONCACAF.

Scotiabank is a lead corporate sponsor. The Bank of Nova Scotia opened its first branch in the Caribbean in 1889 – in Jamaica – to serve the export trade. Over the past century, Scotiabank has developed the most extensive representation of any bank in the region, with approximately 370 branches in 23 countries.

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