Soccer player defects from Cuba, requests asylum in US

Soccer player defects: A Cuban national soccer player disappeared while his team was playing in an Olympic soccer tournament in Tennessee.

Harrison McClary/REUTERS
Andres Flores (R) of El Salvador fights for the ball with Yosmel De Armas of Cuba during their CONCACAF Olympic qualifying soccer match in Nashville, Tennessee March 24.

Yosmel De Armas is a Cuban soccer player who has defected in order to seek asylum in the United States. While in Nashville, Tennessee last month for an Olympic qualifying soccer tournament, the Cuban midfielder was absent from his national team's final game against Canada, although he played on Saturday’s 4-0 loss to El Salvador

When asked why the player skipped the game, the Cuban national coach said De Armas was sick and remained at the team's hotel. However, when the team left Nashville, the promising soccer player did not accompany his teammates on their return trip to the island nation.

Although US officials refused to comment about the player’s whereabouts, it was reported that De Armas was last seen in Miami

"We're preparing an asylum application to file with the Department of Homeland Security," attorney Alex Solomiany said, according to Reuters

The Miami-based lawyer, who described his client as "nervous," said De Armas is "alone here" and that he was on his way to Miami at the time of the game, contrary to the coach's allegations.

A rising number of Cuban athlete defections are explained by several factors: the continuous financial hardship the populace faces in Cuba, the plethora of defection precedents that make the process look easy, and the luring prospects of a better life, all coalesce to urge young athletes to follow this path. 

"This is another case of a Cuban sportsman trying to get a decent life, to try to take control of his own career," Omar Lopez told Reuters.  Lopez is general director of the Cuban American National Foundation, a Miami-based organization of Cuban exiles who seek political change on the island.

Four years ago, seven members of the Cuban under-23 national soccer team also sought political asylum after competing against its US counterpart in Tampa, Florida. 

"Of course, my heart will be in Cuba with my family, but I want to have the freedom to better my life, to play professional soccer, to be the best I can be, and for that we had to make this sacrifice," Yenier Bermudez told the Miami Herald, according to ESPN.

Since the 2002 CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central America, and Caribbean Association Football) tournament in Los Angeles, a total of 15 Cuban soccer players abandoned their teams and requested political asylum in the United States.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.