Cuban player defects at Gold Cup

Los Angeles (AFP) –


A member of Cuba's beleaguered CONCACAF Gold Cup squad has defected in the United States, coach Raul Mederos said on Tuesday.

Speaking in Denver, Mederos confirmed that midfielder Yasmani Lopez had left the squad after the Cubans were thrashed 7-0 by Mexico in their opening game of the tournament in Pasadena, California on Saturday.

"Regarding the case of Yasmani, it is a decision of him," Mederos said.

"None of the rest of the delegation had anything to do with it, it is a decision of him. He took it and made it," Mederos told a press conference.

Cuba face Martinique in Denver on Wednesday in their second game of the tournament.

Lopez, 31, is one of Cuba's most experienced players, making his debut in a Gold Cup clash against Belize in 2013.

The midfielder has been capped 28 times, scoring a single goal and has participated in five Gold Cup games.

Athletes from communist Cuba participating in sports events in the United States and Canada have a long history of defecting.

In 2015, several members of Cuba's Gold Cup squad defected during the tournament, despite thawing relations between the then administration of President Barack Obama and Havana.