|06-15-2007, 12:50 AM||#1|
Tebowing the long haul
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: TX, USA
2 Cuban, 13 Haitian Soccer Players Defect During Gold Cup Tourney in US
It looks like the US aint so bad afterall, eh? The Haitian kids were on a stopover for the U-17 World Cup.
Two Cuban soccer players go AWOL
/ Associated Press
Posted: 1 hour ago
HOUSTON (AP) - Two players on Cuba's national soccer team didn't show up for a Gold Cup match in Texas, while authorities tracked down 13 young Haitian players who disappeared from a New York airport.
Cuba players Osvaldo Alonso and Lester More skipped a first-round game on Wednesday when Cuba faced Honduras.
After Cuba was eliminated with a 5-0 loss to Honduras, Cuba coach Raul Gonzalez declined to say whether the two had defected.
"I'm a football man, not a politician. I will not answer that question," Gonzalez said.
Meanwhile, 13 young Haitians who left their Under-17 World Cup-bound team from John F. Kennedy International Airport had been accounted for on Thursday. Two had gone to Boston and the rest were in New York City, according to Felix Augustin, the consul general.
The players could not be reached for comment, so their exact motivation for fleeing was not known. But Augustin said they were whisked away in a scheme engineered by U.S. friends and relatives.
"These children were manipulated," Augustin said at a news conference in his Madison Avenue office. "It was organized. Absolutely."
He said no charges have been filed.
The youths, all under 17, disappeared during a stopover on their way to a tournament ahead of the Youth World Cup in South Korea. The players and coaches went to a McDonald's near the airport when 13 of them voluntarily got into a van that sped away, Augustin said.
Thousands of Haitians leave the country each year to escape miserable living conditions, violence and political instability.
In Texas, Alonso didn't return from a group shopping trip before Wednesday's game. More, one of Cuba's leading scorers, also missed a game against Panama in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday and has not been with the team since.
Zac Emmons, Gold Cup spokesman, said the team was expected to fly back to Cuba on Thursday. Gonzalez and Alonso had checked out of their hotel on Thursday. Their whereabouts could not be confirmed.
In Havana, the Cuban Soccer Association told The Associated Press that all officials were traveling for the Gold Cup and unavailable for comment. The National Sports Institute also declined comment.
CONCACAF, the governing body of soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean, issued a statement saying it would not comment on rumors of a Cuban defection.