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Cuba v United States: don’t mention the politics

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U.S. players arrive in Cuba

The United States face Cuba in Havana on Saturday; the first time in over 60 years that they have played on the Caribbean island and given the political tensions between the two countries it is a fixture that has caught the imagination of the media — unusually for two countries where soccer is far from the national obsession.

The problem, for reporters, with stories like this is that the politics is the only really interesting aspect to the game but no-one involved will ever say anything remotely spicy on the topic.

It is one of those situations where reporters try in vain to get some words on the off-the-field context while the players, quite understandably, insist it is only about the three points, just another game etc, etc.

I was out at the U.S training session at Barry University yesterday and had a chat with captain Carlos Bocanegra and forward Clint Dempsey and while both were looking forward to their trip to Cuba — a place most Americans can’t travel to due to the embargo — neither wanted to talk politics and frankly, why should they? They are paid to win football matches and occasionally to talk to the media about football. U.S foreign policy isn’t part of the deal.

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