Cuba | Size of ball determines diplomatic response

Fidel steps to the plate. Link to New York Times article.Washington | The U.S. Treasury Department has barred Cuba from the World Baseball Classic next March, although officials were scrambling to explain how Cuba’s national soccer team could have played three times on U.S. soil in the CONCACAF Gold Cup in July. “There’s nothing earth-shattering about it,” Ted Howard, the confederation’s deputy secretary general, said about Cuba’s participation. The U.S. Treasury has oversight because the Cuban team is being paid for its participation in the baseball event; the tournament, organized by the International Baseball Federation, will take place in Japan, Puerto Rico, Florida, Arizona and California.

Gold Cup organizers said Cuba received money for travel and meals during the soccer event, but not payment that might have violated terms of the U.S. economic embargo. Still, despite diplomatic complications that have resulted from defections of Cuban athletes (see a list at the website of the PBS program Stealing Home: The Case of Contemporary Cuban Baseball), U.S. sports authorities hoped a way could be found for Cuba, 25-time champion of the Copa del Mundo de Béisbol. “[I]t’s not a positive development for U.S. international relations, either for the Olympics or in general,” said Jim Scherr, U.S. Olympic Committee chief executive.

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