CONCACAF, As Usual Gets It Wrong
by Bill Ault
Thursday, 13 March 2008
"CONCACAF has been notified by the Head of the Cuban Delegation that several players have left the team. CONCACAF has no information on the location of the players or the circumstances surrounding their separation from the delegation.
CONCACAF's sole objective is to ensure the 2008 CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying Tournament is carried out in the proper manner. The Cuban Delegation has informed us that they will continue to participate in the tournament. All matches, therefore remain as scheduled."
- Chuck Blazer, CONCACAF General Secretary
And that statement sums up the sheer blind ineptitude of the people that pretend to run the game in our part of the world.
At least five and now it appears seven players from the Cuban national team have decided to take advantage of their qualifying trip to the United States and “go missing” in an attempt to defect to the U.S.
Raul Gonzalez, Cuba’s coach, confirmed that captain Yenier Bermudez, goalkeeper Jose Manuel Miranda, Erlys Garcia Baro, Yordany Alvarez and Loanni Prieto are the missing players, leaving his side with only 12 eligible players for their match against Honduras on Thursday, as Roberto Linares is ineligible due to the red card he received against the Americans.
Today [Thursday] Yendry Diaz told ESPN International on the phone that he and Eder Roldan also had left the Cuban team.
Assuming the seven players do not return, Cuba would be left with an 11-man squad, but only 10 would be available to play, because Roberto Linares is automatically suspended one game for receiving a red card in Tuesday's game.
To say this could affect the outcome of the tournament is a bit of an understatement especially after the Cubans held the much favoured home team Americans to a 1-1 tie in the opening game of the tournament while Honduras opened with a 1-0 win over Panama.
That a demoralized and short staffed Cuban side will be able to put up much of a fight tonight against Honduras and in their final match against Panama must surely be seen as unlikely. In fact the chances are that both games could (will) turn into routs are high and will therefore seriously effect the final standings in case of ties.
The American team admittedly who put themselves in a hole in game one mostly due to the fact they could not finish have been put into an even worse situation as the result of a boardroom decision and not by play on the field. Simply if the Americans want to finish first in the group they need two outright wins as anything else would put their chances of even advancing in serious doubt in a tie breaking situation.
Indirectly, this effects the teams in Canada's group as well as it could have a direct bearing on placement for the cross-over semi-final matches and ultimately who grabs the two qualifying spots.
It's a potential disaster just waiting to happen.
CONCACAF's leaders should have dealt with this the way UEFA or FIFA would have – by suspending the Cuban federation (see FIFA's current battle with Spain) and recording all of their games as forfeits. It is the only way they could protect the validity of the tournament.
Unfortunately they as usual failed to show any backbone and took the easy way out. The question is now how will they handle World Cup Qualifying where Cuba is likely to be once again visiting the U.S.?