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Cuban soccer players defect in Canada

Oct. 13, 2012 at 11:32 PM

TORONTO, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- At least three Cuban national soccer players defected while in Toronto for a World Cup qualifier match against Canada, officials confirm.

A representative for the FIFA, the sport's international governing body, said in an email that a number of Cuban players had defected.

The unidentified players left their team Thursday and a U.S. official said they showed up at a border crossing at Niagara Falls that evening, the Toronto Star reported Saturday. A U.S. Customs and Border Protection source said the players were being held, the newspaper said.

A fourth Cuban was thought to have defected, as well, but Cuban Coach Alexander Gonzalez said without further comment that the player had fallen ill and didn't play.

"As with any Cuban sport team that travels around the world, they're all chasing the American dream," the coach said. "And it's difficult to try to keep the team together ... . Obviously it's a difficult situation for the team and it's tough for me to talk about it."

Canada won the Friday match with Cuba 3-0.

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