October 14, 2012 / 2:01 PM / 7 years ago

Soccer-Three Cubans defect before World Cup qualifier in Canada

Oct 14 (Reuters) - Three members of Cuba’s national soccer team defected before a 2014 World Cup qualifying tournament in Canada this week, world soccer’s governing body FIFA said on Sunday.

Three players had gone missing on Thursday in Toronto prior to their team’s match against Canada a day later which the hosts won 3-0.

“FIFA can confirm that three players defected already last Thursday, leaving the Cuban team with 11 players in the squad for the qualifier against Canada,” FIFA said in a statement.

There is a history of Cuban athletes defecting to pursue a potentially lucrative professional career outside communist-run Cuba. Seven members of Cuba’s Olympic soccer team defected in Florida in 2008 after a game against the United States.

In March, a Cuban soccer player left his team while they were in Tennessee for an Olympic qualifying tournament. (Reporting by Karolos Grohmann in Berlin; Editing by Clare Fallon)

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