July 9 – Cuba, who failed to turn up for their Concacaf Gold Cup Preliminary Qualifier against French Guiana last week, now face disciplinary proceedings by governing body Concacaf as new information has arisen regarding their failure to travel.
At the time Concacaf blamed the Cuban crisis on “Covid-19 related travel and visa challenges”. However, Concacaf now has new information suggesting there were other issues that contributed to the team not travelling.
In a statement issued Thursday Concacaf said: “While COVID-19 related travel and visa challenges were a factor, Concacaf has received further information which highlights that other administrative issues at the Cuba Football Association contributed to the team not traveling, and subsequently forfeiting their Prelims match against French Guiana.”
The matter has been referred to the Concacaf Disciplinary Committee.
Cuba had been at a training base in Nicaragua and were planning to fly in from there, believing that obtaining visas for US entry would be easier in Nicaragua than in Cuba. Some of the Cubans play their club football in the US – two even play at Inter Miami in Fort Lauderdale where the Gold Cup qualifiers were hosted – and could have travelled, but the message from the team was that not all were deemed eligible to travel.
Concacaf had been working behind the scenes to try and secure entry to the US and had kept the match open until just five hours before kick off when it became clear the Cubans weren’t travelling and they were left with no alternative but to call off the fixture and award the qualification tie to French Guiana.
Even if Cuba had arrived there would not have been time for Covid PCR tests to have been completed before kick off. Concacaf took the view that taking any risk that players could have returned a positive test was not an option.
It was a blow to Concacaf who had introduced the preliminary knock out rounds into the Gold Cup proper for the first time.
Of all the tournaments taking place arounds the world this summer (Euros, Copa America, Asian World Cup Qualifiers and Tokyo Olympics), Cuba are the only team that have failed to make it to the start line.
Quite why they didn’t make it is now unclear and the covid/visa excuses offered up at the time of their non-arrival are looking increasingly weak. Particularly as a number of teams travelled without key personnel and St Vincent and the Grenadines even travelled from an island rebuilding after the national disaster of a volcano erupting, and with only 14 players and no recognised goalkeeper.
That commitment to participation and confederation unity has not gone unrecognised. It now seem that has Cuba’s lack of commitment hasn’t either.
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