Cuban Player Defections at the Central American and Caribbean Games

During the recently completed Central American and Caribbean Games in the Dominican Republic, three athletes from Cuba took the opportunity to defect. Julio Acosta and Carlos Castlillo defected from the men’s team and Damaris Nay, the team captain defected from the Women’s Team. Acosto was the first to defect and did not play in any games. Castillo played most of the tournament and had 8 goals in Cuba’s semifinal victory over Mexico. He disappeared, however, prior to the final, a game the Cuban’s lost to the Dominican Republic. Adding salt to Cuba’s wounds, the most valuable player for the Dominican Republic was former Cuban Felix Romero who had previously defected three years ago. Nay captained her team throughout the tournament, but disappeared after the final game.

Original sources: (In Spanish)

These 3 join a group of defectors that includes some of the world’s top handball players, including Carlos Perez, who now plays for Veszprem and the Hungarian National team and Julio Fis, who plays for Ciuadad Real

Commentary: Cuba, for a combination of financial and political reasons until recently had not participated in International Handball competitions. And that political reason is that it is embarrassing to have your players defect. For the upcoming Pan Am Games, it would not be surprising for the Cuban Handball team to bow out of the competition for unspecified reasons prior to the event. Assuming this is the case, it’s quite possible that the Repechage (or second chance) tournament between the USA-Canada loser, 4th place South America, and 4th/5th place Central America could end up qualifying two teams, instead of one.