Cayman forfeits Cuba game after first match win in WC

| 11/06/2024 | 74 Comments
Moment of the winning goal (from social media)

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Mens National Football Team was riding high on the road to the 2026 World Cup after a dramatic and historic win at the weekend over visitors Antigua and Barbuda in the second round qualifiers. But hopes of actually getting through this round have now been dashed after a decision has been made not to play in Cuba. US travel restrictions pose a risk to Cayman’s players, many of whom are in college or training in the United States.

Cayman secured a fantastic win on Saturday evening at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex in front of a thrilled local crowd. This was the first time the national men’s squad won a qualifying game for the World Cup, and 18-year-old Joshwa Campbell’s header during stoppage time clinched the one-nil victory.

However, Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA) President Alfredo Whittaker said that despite every effort to move the game to another island, CONCACAF could not help because Cuba is entitled to a home match.

The US routinely cancels ESTA visa waivers for anyone who has travelled to Cuba. This would impact several of the national team players who are under 23, on student visas to attend college in the US and have ESTAs in their British passports. Whittaker told the Cayman Compass that the team had discussed the options and decided they could not play in Cuba and would have to forfeit the match.

“I don’t want to risk any of these boys’ ESTAs being removed or their student visas removed for one game,” the president said.

It’s a long wait until the next game. The CONCACAF qualifiers will be next June when Cayman takes on Bermuda and Honduras.

See Campbell’s winning header here.


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Comments (74)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like rubbish to me. Direct from the US government website…

    “The 12 categories of authorized travel to Cuba are: family visits; official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations; journalistic activity; professional research and professional meetings; educational activities; religious activities; public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, …”

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  2. Anonymous says:

    “I don’t want to risk any of these boys’ ESTAs being removed or their student visas removed for one game,” the president said.
    5 mins research on the State Department website would tell him a) you cannot enter the US on an ESTA to study – you need a visa b) if you have a visa you don’t need (and won’t get if you apply for) a visa c) the Cuba visit rule only applies to entry on an ESTA. President Whittaker is either badly informed, or is trying to divert attention from the failure to obtain exemptions for the match visit or visas for the non-student players by angling at the sympathy vote – we couldn’t endanger the education of the players (which isn’t actually affected unless they are studying illegally in the US!).

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  3. Anonymous says:

    CIFA President and Members, Failing to plan is planning to fail.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Lack of planning on the part of CIFA does not an emergency create on CONCACAF’s part …

    Had they started the process in JANUARY when the group was drawn, they would have had the waivers approved by June!!!

    CIFA … Consistently Incompetence Facilitating Airheads

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    • Heart breaking says:

      This is so sad. There is always obstacles and blocks in young caymanians way. Heart breaking.

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      • Anonymous says:

        That restriction has been in place since 2021 and is not exactly targeted at young Caymanians – or Caymanians at all. You may as well say the requirement to have a passport is an obstacle or block. Entirely foreseeable and easily resolvable – all they needed to do was obtain a waiver or get a visa, either of which could have been dome well before the competition. And some of the players apparently already have student visas, which would be in no way endangered by visiting Cuba, despite what

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  5. Anonymous says:

    3-0 seems like a good choice given the risks and previous results;

    30 Jul 1995 Cayman Islands v Cuba L 0-3
    26 Apr 1996 Cuba v Cayman Islands L 4-0
    12 May 1996 Cayman Islands v Cuba L 0-1
    14 May 1996 Cayman Islands v Cuba L 0-5
    06 May 1998 Cayman Islands v Cuba D 2-2
    05 May 1999 Cuba v Cayman Islands L 4-1
    05 Mar 2000 Cuba v Cayman Islands L 4-0
    19 Mar 2000 Cayman Islands v Cuba D 0-0
    27 Nov 2002 Cayman Islands v Cuba L 0-5
    22 Feb 2004 Cayman Islands v Cuba D 1-1
    27 Mar 2004 Cuba v Cayman Islands L 3-0
    06 Sep 2006 Cuba v Cayman Islands L 7-0

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  6. Anonymous says:

    I thought travel to Cuba for sporting competition was one of the exemptions granted by the US Govt. You would have thought that many USA colleges would have done their homework on behalf of all of their students, and fully equipped them with the info, the process, and consequences, whether they were Americans or holders of student or work visas, including ESTAs. There might come a time that the USA has a fixture in Cuba, so I doubt they would forfeit. Just sounds like insufficient planning on the part of CIFA. Did CIFA not rely upon Concacaf guidance either ? Or maybe a 3-0 forfeit was always going to be a smaller defeat than actually playing there.

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    • Anonymous says:

      did you just wake up in a bad mood – or are you always this negative?

      did you really have to make this unpleasant comment about a group of boys who are working so hard, and deserve support rather than snide comments.

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      • Anonymous says:

        So who’s in the bad, negative mood today? Mirror, mirror on the wall. I thought the comments were pretty logical.

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      • Anonymous says:

        They deserve the support of CIFA sorting out the immigration issues to allow them to travel, by either getting an exemption or advising the players to get visas.

  7. Elvis says:

    They Havana laugh surely.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    US government screwing everyone over as usual.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Then don’t go shopping there. If you don’t like them you don’t need them.

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    • Anonymous says:

      No, just you people.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You can thank Trump for that. The planet needs to get rid of that guy.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Putin is threatening actual use of nuclear weapons like people throwing out bath water and you’re worried about Trump? Wow

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        • Sir Humphrey says:

          5:58, Trump said a few years ago that “Putin was his good friend”.

          A good reason to be worried.

          Trump has never expressed a negative word towards Putin even after the invasion of Ukraine. WHY?

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    • Miami Dave says:

      3:37, You no doubt are unaware that there is a Russian navy armada in Havana Harbour now with a nuclear based submarine with very advanced missiles on it capable of hitting Miami easily.

      There is a link between U.S. policy and what is going on here.

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      • Anonymous says:

        The policy was introduced in 2021. Nothing to do with the fleet visit.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Oh please have a longer memory than the past few years. Cuba and its population has been suffering under a US directed economic war since the 60s. The ties with Russian reach back all that way. This is not new. And to call this an Armanda… you really are a silly person.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Yes. This is a fascinating development. The Trump card is about to be played and the Don is coming back to the White House on a coup.
        Do I care? Not one bit.
        Do I support Trump? Not at all.
        American politics is all smoke and mirrors for the entertainment of the gullible.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    This only seems to effect persons using the ESTA system in their passport not a regular Visa. The UK is one of the passports where that is possible. A Caymanian passport is not so all citizens should get one and a Visa.
    Note that an ESTA only works on scheduled commercial flights. So it is NO GOOD for travel on an emergency flight, e.g. Air ambulance, hurricane evacuation, etc.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Looks like Cuba may have found a way to win the league by having half the games be home games if this issue is ubiquitous throughout the region.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Apart from those countries whose players either dont want o travel to the US, or have obtained either a visa or an exemption.

  11. Jake says:

    This is incredibly disappointing. Don’t fully understand why the US has these restrictions in place. Politics should never impact such big games. A real shame as I think the lads would have stood a chance, going in on a high from the win

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    • Anonymous says:

      the US has been using these tactics to cripple Cuba for decades.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Dont fully understand…. do you live on the moon? Castro turned the country into one of the most impoverished on the planet besides turning his people towards prostitution to survive. Just look at all the people leaving to flee for America.

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      • Castro Was Right says:

        Castro raised the country out of poverty when the revolution came and seized the wealthy landowners properties and dispersed them to the people. Millions learned to read too. The salty Cubans who fled to Miami were the oligarchs and rich landowners he targeted.

        Castro refused to cower to the Americans and he called them out for their hypocrisy, oppression of the poor and institutional racism.

        The U.S. chose to punish the Cubans with neverending embargos that continue to this day.

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        • Anonymous says:

          6:32 am – Keep drinking that Kool-Aid

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          • Anonymous says:

            Reading books on the actual events in history is actually good. You should try it someday.

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        • Anonymous says:

          You forgot to add why though. Russia. See the boats there now?

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          • Big Bobo In West Bay says:

            1:36, Russian nuclear submarines with advanced missiles in Havana now.

            Don’t blame the Americans. Bigger issues than a bunch of Cayman footballers going to Cuba.

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        • Anonymous says:

          532am – Communism is a failed economic and social model with very little freedoms for the masses.

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          • Anonymous says:

            when you’re a little bit smarter you will realize the amount of communism that’s embedded in the countries deemed the best places to live on earth. pure communism and capitalism isn’t great on their own.

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        • Johnny Canuck says:

          6:32, I have been all over Cuba 3 times in past 20 years. I saw poverty everywhere with collapsing buildings, subsistence farming and infrastructure collapse everywhere. You should take a visit there and see for yourself.

          The people who are doing great are the Castro family and the people with close links to the highest levels of the Communist Party. They live a nice life with their nice summer homes in Spain. They are certainly not in poverty and the majority are millionaires.

          Of course, that would not fit your narrative.

          • Xi Knows Best says:

            And yet, you intentionally left out the crippling embargos from the U.S. for decades.

            Communism/Socialism has been painted as evil since the cold war and yet forms of it is in place across much of the EU and China has essentially erased poverty and is thriving.

  12. Anonymous says:

    and yet the world is still turning

    I wish people took real life as seriously as they took kicking a ball into a net solely for the purpose of which set of people is better at kicking a ball into a net today

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Do Cuba have a communist football team. Is everyone equal in abilities?

    Sorry, I was Havana laugh.

    This is a crazy situation, for once, not related to CIFA incompetence! Write off the points and look forward to playing Honduras in the future. That will be a wild atmosphere!

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    • Anonymous says:

      1:57, You do need to be a member of the Party to play on the national Cuban football team. It’s a simple fact.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Bit confused because it seems we were aware Cuba was in our group from January, but only contacted the Department of Sports for potential assistance two months ago. Surely this also impacts Bermuda, Honduras, and Antigua and Barbuda, who likely have players with similar concerns. I assume they resolved their issues in a more timely manner?

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  15. Lizzie says:

    Can it not be played on a neutral ground?
    Every country playing Cuba will have the same
    issues.

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  16. Anonymous says:

    obvious question…what happens when other countries are asked to play in cuba?
    or is it just the caymanian way to forfeit games when faced with tough choices?

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    • Countries like Honduras may have players that play pro in the US, but they are not 21-year-olds attending college in the USA like many of the Cayman players are. The adults get a work visa and can travel wherever they want in the world. This only affects these smaller nations with a lot of under 23 players on their national roster that depend on the benefit their players receive by playing in the USA.

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    • Anonymous says:

      STFU

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    • Anonymous says:

      They all have players with ESTA concerns and sorted them out when the schedule came out in January.

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