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Cuba Loves Soccer

Cuba Loves Soccer

Posted by Miguel Ernesto on July 04, 2014

The passion for the FIFA Soccer World Cup Brazil 2014 has been amazingly strong in Cuba, a country despite only being once to the event, has fans that feel as their own, the triumphs and disappointments of Brazil, Argentina, Germany and Spain, the four most followed countries in this archipelago that breathes soccer and baseball.

The interest of cubans for the World Cup can be seen through many examples. All of the matches have been transmitted by national television, they bought FIFA’s rights for 430 thousand dollars, which doesn't make it rare to have “family reunions” at people’s homes during the matches; however, even though they can watch the games for free, there aren't few of those who prefer to go to private or public bars to, with beer in the way, enjoy the World Cup in company of friends or perfect strangers, to whom they might share only one passion: soccer.

An experience that has been repeating itself this World Cup has been habilitating several movie theatres in Havana to show the most important matches. The heat there is intense because the Air Conditioning barely works and outside the temperature is way above 30 degrees celsius; but not even this has kept the cinema Yara, located in the heart of the Rampa, the most crowded road of the city, from gathering more than 500 fans to share the feelings of the triumph of Brazil over Chile or of Argentina over Switzerland in the round of eight. 

It is also common, to find in different parts of Cuban cities, even in the middle of the more transited roads, improvised soccer fields, where kids and teenagers try to imitate Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. If the coaches of inferior leagues went by some of these places they could probably recruit not very few children, because the talent is there, it only needs to be discovered, and shaped and let grow, although these stages don’t seem to be very well developed in Cuban soccer, lost in a crushing ostracism.

The World Cup is also good business, even for public shops and for Cuban entrepreneurs. Even though Adidas sells in its very few shops the Brazuca ball and some of the official jerseys of the teams it sponsors (9 in total while Nike, for being American, doesn't have any shop in the country) it isn't hard to find plenty of offers of people who offer “pirate” (not original) jerseys, with prices that go from 10 to 40 pesos convertibles (1 USD is 0,87 CUC). They offer high prices, specially if you take into account the mean salary of Cubans; but we are in the time of the World Cup so the fans make an “extra effort” so that every one know, in their neighborhood, work place or school what their favorite team is.

Panamerican World shares with its readers this photo journal about how Cubans are living the FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014. Images speak for themselves…

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