Cuba Declines to Participate in the Under-18 Baseball World Cup for Fear the Players Will Flee

Cuban athletes in the Under-18 category will not see action in the World Cup scheduled for next September. (Twitter/@francysromeroFR)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 7 February 2022 — The fear of the flight of players, as happened last year in the Americas Qualifier held in Florida or the Under-23 World Cup in Mexico, has led Cuba to make the decision not to attend the Under-18 World Cup. Media pressure is another reason, according to journalist Francys Romero based on close sources, causing the authorities to decide not to participate in the competition, which will be held this coming September in Sarasota and Bradenton, USA.

This absence represents the Island’s second year out of the competition, as it was not present last year due to the covid-19 pandemic, according to what the Government told the World Baseball and Softball Confederation.

“Throughout history, these tournaments have represented a kind of motivation for youth players in Cuba,” Romero said. Traveling abroad means “a prize” and also an opportunity to emigrate for youth athletes who will now have to wait for future years.

In May 2021, the Cuban Baseball Federation (FCB) reported that César Prieto, Andy Rodríguez, Lázaro Blanco and the team’s psychologist left the Cuban nine and decided to stay in the United States. The federation still had not recovered from these “desertions” when, in September of the same year, 12 athletes dropped out, the worst figure in history.

Trying to avoid the “bleeding of players”, the Cuban Federation plans competitions with Under-23 teams, but while this does not materialize, the weekly abandonment of youth is a constant. On February 5, it was announced that Luis Enrique González left the island without specifying the destination. A day before Roger Trench escaped to the Dominican Republic. Also on the list are Yunior Tur and Yosimar Cousín and Loidel Chapellí Jr.

In the first half of January, El Nuevo Herald published that at least 15 Cubans, at the age of 16, began to sign their contracts with one of the 30 Major League clubs, and made reference to Cristian Vaquero with the Washington team, Dyan Yamel Jorge with Colorado, and Oscar Luis Colás with Chicago.

The youth seek to be hired by teams from the United States, as well as Canada, and Japan, with whom the FCB has agreements has begun approaches for prospects who might exit. “It is one of the missions of the Cuban Federation, to manage the contracts of Cuban players,” declared the national director of Baseball, Juan Reinaldo Pérez, on the Bola Viva program last Tuesday.

Pérez spoke of “freedom” for athletes to seek contracts beyond MLB. However, these contractual relations must be “under the protection of the FCB.” The salary, he specified, is negotiated between the club, the federation and the athlete. The player “receives 100% of his salary” and for the training right between 10% and 25% is agreed with the club, and “this money is paid to the federation.”


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