[QODLink]
Football
Blatter to speak to Cuba over defections
FIFA boss will address officials after defection of three national team players before World Cup qualifier in Canada.
Last Modified: 15 Oct 2012 13:01
Three Cuban players went missing in Toronto on Thursday last week prior to the game with Canada a day later [AFP]

FIFA President Sepp Blatter plans to speak with Cuban officials after three national team players defected in Canada ahead of a World Cup qualifier last week.

The players disappeared nine months after two players with the Cuba women's team fled to the United States following a match against Canada in Vancouver.

Blatter said Monday that the defections had become "a presidential question'' for FIFA and not just an issue for the competitions department.

"This we cannot let just stand there - it will not work,'' he told reporters at a briefing.

Blatter will study FIFA's reports into the latest incident in Toronto last Thursday before acting.

The FIFA president said he will personally contact "the sports authorities in Cuba, but giving them a copy to give to their political authorities.''

Inexperienced squad

Cuba had just 11 players available to face Canada on Friday and lost 3-0.

Cuba was already eliminated from contention in its group, and sent an inexperienced squad to Canada - prompting suggestions that top players were left at home to prevent them defecting.

"As with any Cuban sport team that travels around the world, they're all chasing the American dream,'' Cuba coach Alexander Gonzalez said after the match about the missing players.

"And it's difficult to try to keep the team together. Obviously it's a difficult situation for the team and it's tough for me to talk about it.''

Blatter, whose scheduled visit to Cuba next week was postponed earlier this month, said he plans to visit the Caribbean island in either February or March.

The FIFA president declined to be drawn into a football politics squabble between Uruguay and FIFA vice president Jim Boyce of Northern Ireland.

Uruguay officials wrote to Blatter last week demanding he censure Boyce for singling out their forward Luis Suarez of Liverpool as a major culprit in making diving a "cancer'' of the sport.

Blatter said he believed that officials "should not identify players'' to make a point about potential misconduct, but it was not a significant issue.

"This declaration is a very, very small part of the problems we have to deal with in the world of football,'' Blatter said.

392

Source:
AP
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.