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Cuba called the desertion of seven soccer players at the Olympic qualifying tournament
The seven players left the team in Tampa, Florida, after their opening match, a 1-1 draw with the United States on Tuesday. On Thursday, the team started with 10 players when one was suspended for a red card in the U.S. match, and lost to Honduras 2-0.

"After their brilliant performance against the United States ... Cuba's Under-23 team suffered the desertion of seven members under the protection of the Cuban Adjustment Act," read a short note in the Communist Party daily Granma.

Entitled "Low Blow for Cuban Soccer," the article noted that Cuba was left significantly weakened against Honduras.

The Communist Youth Union newspaper Juventud Rebelde, the island's other national daily, qualified the desertions as "dishonorable."

While Cuba hasn't officially identified the players, Jose Manuel Miranda, Erlys Garcia Baro, Yenier Bermudez, Yordany Alvarez and Loanni Prieto missed practice on Wednesday and were absent against Honduras. Yendry Diaz and Eder Roldan also missed the game, with Diaz telling ESPN that the two players left the team on Wednesday.

Under the Cold War-era Cuban Adjustment Act that provides special protection to immigrants from the communist-run island, the United States instituted a "wet foot, dry foot" policy that lets Cubans who reach American soil remain in the country and apply for U.S. residency after one year.


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