Cuban soccer player defects

A member of the Castro dictatorship’s Cuban national soccer team has defected to the United States.

Via El Nuevo Herald (my translation):

Defection of Cuban soccer player confirmed Mesa, a 27-year-old soccer striker, escaped from the Cuban delegation playing in the Gold Cup and stayed in the United States with the dream of becoming a professional soccer player.

Mesa, who was born in Cienfuegos, said he had played in two FIFA soccer World Cups. In Brazil (2008), he scored three goals and in Taiwan (2004), he scored one.

He was part of the Cuban team that won the bronze medal in the Caribbean Cup, a classifying round for the Gold Cup in the United States.

In the 2011 CONCACAF tournament, Mesa came in as a backup player in the match against Costa Rica. Cuba fell 5-0 against the Costa Ricans, and by the same score against Mexico.


Cuba’s 30-year-old striker Yosniel Mesa, has defected to the U.S. during the CONCACAF Gold Cup after leaving his team’s hotel in Charlotte before the 5-0 hammering by Mexico on Thursday.

Mesa climbed down a fire-escape ladder and ran to a waiting car in order to pursue a professional career in the game, which he said in an interview aired on Univision, the U.S. Spanish-language TV network, was ‘not possible’ in Cuba.

The player, who also claimed he had made the decision to defect before the tournament, was listed as ‘injured’ in the squad list for Sunday’s 6-1 loss to El Salvador in Chicago, but the team made no comment after the game.

Two Cuban players defected during the 2007 Gold Cup – Lester More and Osvaldo Alonso – and coach Raul Gonzalez, who is still in charge, said at the time: “I am a man of soccer. I don’t discuss politics, so I’m not going to answer that question.”