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German soccer club signs Cubans

Published Sep. 28, 2005

A German fourth division soccer club signed virtually the entire Cuban senior national squad in an effort to rise to the third division.

The 15 players, all over 25 and unknown internationally, leave for Bonner SC, a small club from the city of Bonn, on Jan. 31.

Bonner SC will cover the Cubans' costs, and give them facilities and coaching. In return, the German club can field any of the players.

Cuba's Communist Party, which supervises sports on the island, said the sport was "open to initiatives which, of course, do not harm its sovereignty or that of Cuban sport in general."

"The explosiveness of the Caribbean footballer, and his speed, were virtues that surely caught the eye of the Bonn officials," the Communist Party daily Granma reported.

Bonner SC coach Rainer Thomas said recently that club bosses came up with the idea after watching a video of Cuba playing Brazil last year.

But he played down the idea that Cubans would take over the first team: "The chances of that are almost zero. I think too many players in my team are too good for that to happen."

Bonner SC officials traveled to Havana last month to clinch the deal, under which the Cubans will stay in Germany for the first half of the year before returning to play for Cuba in June's regional Caribbean Cup tournament.

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_ Compiled from Times wires.