Twelve Cuban baseball players used the World Cup in Mexico to desert, breaking the mass start record in 1996.
The Cuban baseball team under 23 returned to Havana on Monday with only half of the squad after the departure of 12 of the 24 players who traveled to Mexico for the World Cup, a record.
“The Cuban baseball team, which finished fourth at the third World Cup in 23 years, arrived at dawn in Havana with 12 players, or 50% of those who left first,” sports journalist Francys Romero wrote on Twitter. the United States.
World Championship in “jumping off”
The World Cup under 23, which was competed between twelve teams and won by Venezuela, “will be remembered as the world championship in” defections “, added the author of a book on the stories of emigration of Cuban baseball players.
In recent years, leaks from Cuban athletes from tournaments abroad have been frequent, but they have never reached such a rate.
The last record for mass starts in Cuban baseball dates back to 1996, when five players from the Industriales team took advantage of a tournament in Mexico to desert.
When the twelve players arrived at the airport, Raul Fornés, vice president of the Sports Institute (India), sent them congratulations. “Go home with your head held high and keep fighting to be Cuban baseball players,” he said.
“Despite the difficulties they faced, the many pressures and the bad blows they received, they managed to raise the flag and fight with gut,” he added.
In a statement read on arrival and then published in the sports daily Jit online, team members said they returned “to their home country with the satisfaction of being faithful to it. We are grateful for the marks of devotion, trust and support that we’ve received “.
For years, defections have been the Achilles’ heel of Cuban baseball, with players preferring the United States Major League Baseball – whose contracts are juicier than in Cuba – due to current embargo laws since 1962.