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The World’s Worst Soccer Teams – Cuba
The Golden Age
Once upon a time Cuba was one of the best teams in America. By the early 1930s, the Island finished first in the Central and Caribbean Games. They beat Costa Rica and Honduras. Then, between July 4 and July 19, 1938, the Cuban national football team became the best Caribbean team in football history when it placed seventh in the Third FIFA World Cup in Paris, the capital of France. During that event, Cuba had defeated Romania. However, the island was never seen again at the World Cup.
Country Profile: Cuba
This Spanish-speaking nation is located in the Caribbean Sea. It covers 42,800 square miles; Latin America’s largest individual island. There are at least 12 million people. Havana is the capital of the country. Politically, Cuba is a dictatorship.
Since 1959 Cuba, once a colony of Spain, has turned into a Marxist dictatorship. In practice, the island is governed by the Castro family. Afterwards, the nation’s dictator Fidel Castro Ruz was elected as the first pro-Soviet leader in the Western Hemisphere. From the 1960s to the 1980s, the USSR (now Russia) provided major military and economic aid.
Unfortunately, it has been one of the most brutal human rights abusers in the Third World since the 1950s. Because of this, the Cuban tyranny is an international pariah on the world stage, along with Iran, Zimbabwe, Burma, and the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea (also known as North Korea). According to Reports Without Borders, Cuba is one of the “15 Internet enemies on Earth.” For political and economic reasons, over 250 athletes, including Olympic champions, had left the country since 1990, the highest of the world’s developing countries. Economically, it has become heavily dependent on Venezuelan aid since the 2000s.
FIFA World Cup
The Cuban national team has not qualified for the FIFA World Cup since 1938. In recent decades, many Caribbean and Central American countries, from El Salvador and Honduras to Haiti and Trinidad Tobago, have already passed Cuba. By the early 1970s, the Salvadoran team was the winner of the CONCACAF men’s football tournament and was therefore one of the 16 teams at the FIFA Championship in Mexico City. Then, twelve years later, El Salvador, along with Honduras, participated in the second Men’s World Cup in Barcelona (Spain). For the first time in 44 years, Haiti, a virtual unknown before 1974, secured their place in soccer history when they competed in World Cup X in Munich, West Germany. From 1990 onwards, Costa Rica has participated twice in the global event. In the 2002 FIFA tournament, the Central Americans finished 19th (among 32 teams).
Unlike neighboring Cuba, Jamaica qualified for the World Cup in the late 1990s. The Jamaican team placed 22nd in the FIFA Championship, ahead of Scotland, Saudi Arabia and Japan. Subsequently, Trinidad & Tobago, a cricket-loving island, took part in the 2006 World Cup. Meanwhile, Honduras has qualified for South Africa 2010. Honduras, one of the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere, made its Cup debut of the World in the early 1980s.
From 1962 to the late 1980s, sports in Cuba underwent a sudden change when the USSR and other Marxist states sent up to 300 coaches to the island. Also during that period, the Spanish-speaking nation received more money per capita to promote sports than any other nation on Earth, including South Korea, China and Greece. At the same time, several soccer coaches came to Cuba, from Hungarians to Soviets. Meanwhile, the Marxist government sent a host of national teams to Eastern Europe, North Korea and the Soviet Union. Havana also hosted many international tournaments. But despite all this, the Cuban football team did not qualify for the FIFA World Cup. But this was only the beginning of the tragedy.
From the 1990s to the 2000s, only a handful of soccer players escaped Cuba. In the early 1990s, Fernando Griñan, one of the island’s most popular players, sought political asylum abroad. But Griñan was not the only one. In 1998, Eduardo Sebrango left Cuba for Canada. Soon after, Alberto Delgado y Perez and Rey Angel Martinez defected from her national team during the 20o2 Gold Cup in the United States. Three years later, Maykel Galindo escaped from the island. Likewise, between 2007 and 2008, Osvaldo Alonso, Lester More, Pedro Faife and Reinier Alcantara had left Havana. In March 2008, seven players requested political asylum in America: Manuel Miranda, Erlys Garcia, Yenier Bermudez, Yordany Alvarez, Loanny Duarte, Yendri Diaz and Eder Roldan. As a result, Cuba failed to qualify for South Africa 2010.
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