The U.S. men’s national team will play a historic international friendly against Cuba October 7, 2016. The game will be historic because they haven’t played since 1947.
This is the second visit to Cuba by a U.S. team. In the first visit they won 1- 0 September 6, 2008 for a qualifying round in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
U.S. men’s national team vs Cuba: The politics behind the game
Ever since Fidel Castro came into power in 1957, the relationship between Cuba and the U.S. has been strained. It’s hard to believe that the U.S. has such a dysfunctional relationship with a country so close; Cuba lies 100 miles off the coast of Florida. Since 1961 U.S. and Cuba has had no diplomatic relations with each other.
The trouble really started in 1960 when Fidel Castro seized private lands and nationalized hundreds of private companies, including several local subsidiaries of U.S. corporations. U.S. products were taxed so heavily that U.S. exports were halved in just two years. President Eisenhower responded by imposing trade embargo restrictions on everything except for medical and food supplies. The U.S. also cut all diplomatic ties with Cuba, and has been talking through Switzerland ever since. Castro then reached out to Russia and expanded trade with them.
After buying 1,200 Cuban cigars, President Kennedy then set a permanent embargo. Cuba was crippled by the embargo. They were a country that relied on U.S. made products. The U.S. tried many ways to topple the Cuban government including the Bay of Pigs invasion, an embarrassing moment for the U.S..
In 1992 the embargo was strengthened and again in 1996 with the Helms-Burton Act. The act expanded to include foreign countries that traded with Cuba. The act was in response to two U.S. civilian planes being shot down by Cuba.
President Barack Obama restored diplomatic relations with Cuba on July 20, 2015. Although the U.S. maintains its embargo, President Obama has called for an end to the embargo. U.S law requires congressional approval to end the embargo.
More than just a game
Given the history and tension between the U.S. and Cuba, I doubt the soccer game will just be about soccer. I’m sure the U.S. players will receive harsh verbal treatment from the fans of Cuba. With all the tension and bad blood, it should make for a very exciting game.
When will the U.S. men’s national team play again?
The U.S men’s national team finished fourth in the Copa America Centenario. The U.S. will finish the semifinal round of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup on September 2, 2016 against St. Vincent and The Grenadines at a time and place to be determined.
When will the historic game take place?
The historic game against Cuba will take place on October 7, 2016 at Estadio Pedro Marrero in Havana, Cuba at a time to be determined. You can catch the U.S. play Cuba on ESPN and Univision networks.