US to allow MLB stars to participate for Cuba in the WBC.
The United States will permit Major League Baseball players from Cuba to represent their country at the World Baseball Classic next year.
The announcement made on Saturday in a press announcement by the Baseball Federation of Cuba (FCB) could be a significant move in transforming Cuba’s national team to be heavy hitting players on the world stage.
Major League Baseball confirmed Monday that the U.S. granted the license to FCB. It opens the way for MLB stars like Jose Abreu, Yordan Alvarez, Randy Arozarena, Yoan Moncada, and Luis Robert to play for Cuba in the WBC in March, if they decide to accept an invitation.
It’s the responsibility of each nation’s national governing body for the players for their WBC team. The final 30-man rosters are due February. 7, for WBC beginning March 8 when Cuba takes on Taiwan against the Netherlands.
The most popular sport across Latin America is soccer, baseball is the dominant sport in Cuba. Cuba is gaining recognition around the world due to its talent in baseball.
However, in recent years there have been hundreds of players who have left Cuba to play professionally in other countries. Particularly are those who have been made United States residents and stars for major league teams from the U.S.
The reason for the defections is due to a not-so-common geopolitical dispute between two seaside neighbors which has left Cuban players caught between the two.
Cuban athletes who play on the island aren’t able to earn money under the communist administration that banned professional sports after the Cuban revolution of 60 years ago.
The long-term sanctions imposed from the U.S. make it largely impossible for Cubans to be professional players for any American team without having to leave. In addition, Cuba historically has not permitted Cuban players to leave their rosters for national squads.
The departures have impacted Cuba’s ability to perform in international baseball tournaments. For instance Cuba’s Cuban baseball team was unable to make it into the 2021 Tokyo Olympics after many years of receiving medals for the game.
Then, in November Cuba altered its policy and invited a number of high-profile players who left to play for the country at the World Baseball Classic, an event featuring some of the best players from Japan, Taiwan and the U.S.
A few weeks later, Cuban officials accused the Biden administration of preventing the athletes from representing Cuba.
In a statement on Saturday, FCB president Juan Reinaldo Perez Pardo said the license was a “positive step,” and stated that the Cuban Federation will be able to get more information on this team’s WBC roster when it receives more information on the permit issued from the U.S.
In the same vein, Perez Pardo also criticized the U.S., tweeting Saturday “it is arbitrary and discriminatory that a permit from the government of this country (the U.S.) is needed to attend” the WBC.