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SBD Global/June 29, 2012/International Football

Football Growing In Popularity In Cuba

The growth of football in Cuba is examined by Sarah Rainsford of the BBC, who wrote that you are currently as likely to see a "young Cuban in a replica football shirt as in a baseball top." Student Manuel Alejandro said, "It's a football revolution. There are more fans here every day." Euro 2012 has made this "clearer than ever" with people "glued to their TV sets" across the country. State TV carries the Euro Championships live and the games are played in bars, homes and supermarkets since it is "illegal to have satellite TV at home." Football only started to be shown live in '98, but now El Clasico [The Barcelona-Real Madrid matchup] is broadcast live, and one European league game is "chosen for rebroadcast every week." Havana's main football stadium is a "neglected, sorry-looking place, its facade faded and its rough pitch covered in long grass better suited to Sunday league football" than int'l matches. Although Cuba has not reached the World Cup since '38, a couple thousand fans showed up "faces painted, flags and hooters in hand" to see the national team take on Canada in a recent World Cup qualifier. Cuba Football Association VP Antonio Garces Segura said, "Our football pitches and stadiums need improving for football competitions. And we need to work from the bottom up with young players." Segura added that he expects "work on a new, FIFA-funded synthetic pitch to be approved soon" (BBC, 6/28).
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