Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Games abroad

One of the two Cuban footballers who defected late last week in the US, Reinier Alcantara, has spoken for the first time about his (very lucky) escape.

Alcantara told The Washington Post that he made his run for freedom on Thursday evening, as he and the rest of the Cuban national team were getting ready to be picked up for dinner.

When the coaches and officials with him walked into one of the gift shops, he dashed down the escalators to the street and then “ran like crazy”, jumping into a taxi and telling the driver to “Go, go go” for the next half hour or so.

Interestingly, Alcantara confirms what most of us have suspected for years – all Cuban national teams include among the “officials” at least one senior political enforcer, whose task is to ensure no embarrassing defections that might upset the Castro brothers back in Havana.

He also reveals that when the team travels internationally, Cuban officials remove all telephones from the players’ hotel rooms, a standard practice designed to “discourage players from communicating with outsiders on foreign trips”.


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