New York Cosmos announce historic game to be played in Cuba

The New York Cosmos announced they will play a historic friendly against the Cuban national team, which will be played in Havana on June 2.

Only three months after President Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro agreed to restore diplomatic ties which were severed 54 years ago, the Cosmos announced plans to be the first professional American sports team since Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles in 1978 to play in Cuba.

New York Cosmos directors Seamus O’Brien and Carlos Mendes, along with the coaches from both teams, Giovanni Savarese and Walter Benitez respectively, spoke to the media in New York City on Monday afternoon.

“We had several trips to Washington, my colleagues met with the State Department officials responsible and they’ve been truly fantastic, a lot of support,” O’Brien said.

“It’s not just what you do in your own country. It’s a global game. It’s a global economy and we want to be a part of it.”

The Cosmos and the North American Soccer League (NASL) reformed in 2013 after the league was shut down in 1984.

Cuban national team coach Walter Benitez said it was a privilege to play against the Cosmos, who gained worldwide recognition in the 1970’s after signing players like Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, Giorgio Chinaglia and Carlos Alberto.

“This will be a historical match and we’ll enjoy it,” Benitez said. “I can tell you that this will be a historic event and something that we will all enjoy.

“There is a huge level of expectation in Cuba. There is a great deal of excitement to see the like of Raul, Marcos Senna and other great players in Havana.”

The friendly will serve as a warm up match for Cuba as the team prepares for this summer’s Gold Cup.

Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese was excited about the game, and recognized it’s importance to both franchises.

“I feel privileged to belong to a club who opens doors and acts as an ambassador in the sport around the globe,” the Cosmos coach said. “This is a great occasion and certainly historic, but our interests are mainly sporting. That weekend we have no domestic game and it’s a great chance to help Cuba in their Gold Cup preparation.”


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One Response

  1. Mark Williamson March 17, 2015

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