With the US winning 8-0 in the first leg against Barbados last weekend in their World Cup qualification opener, and Cuba winning their first leg 4-3 against Antigua & Barbuda, it’s appearing extremely likely that the US will be in the same qualification group as Cuba in the next round of qualifying.
This means the United States will play a match in Cuba.
The current travel ban means US fans will be unable to support the team – and unable to spread goodwill.
Please consider writing Voinovich and Brown to encourage them to issue an exemption to the travel ban. While I will not be one of the fans trying to go to Cuba, there are a lot of fans who travel to see the US play wherever they go. It seems like a shame to waste this opportunity; an influx of American fans (and American tourist dollars) may encourage people who see the benefits of opening trade with the US to put pressure on their own government to do what is necessary to convince the US to lift the embargo.
Dear Senator [insert name] :
As you know, soccer is the most popular sport in most nations around the globe. While the sport of soccer is somewhat less important to the national identity of the United States compared to the rest of the world, the passion of US Soccer’s die-hard fans is similar to the fans of such great soccer nations as Brazil, England, and Germany. As the United States Men’s National Soccer Team begins their quest to represent our great nation at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, that road will likely go through Cuba this September. However, due to the current political landscape between the United States and Cuba, no US Soccer fans will be able to travel to the match in Havana to support our team.
Given the chance, many US Soccer fans would love to be able to travel to Havana to support our team and represent our country. We have shown our dedication to this team around the globe time and again. We have traveled to France for the 1998 World Cup, to South Korea for the 2002 World Cup, and to Germany for the 2006 World Cup and we have always represented the United States with honor and unabashed pride for who we are and what our nation represents. That we will not be able to continue that role as ambassadors for our country in Cuba is disheartening to the members of our brigades of Sam’s Army, the name for the US Soccer Supporters Clubs, around the country. This is where we would like to ask for your help.
Senator [insert name] , we would like to ask for your help in securing a one-time exemption to the Cuban travel ban to allow supporters of the United States Men’s National Soccer Team to cheer on our team in Havana in September. We would like to ask for your help in allowing men and women wearing red, white, and blue to proudly wave our flag, to sing the “Star-Spangled Banner,” and to chant “USA! USA!” in Havana’s Estadio Panamericano. We would like to ask for your help and support in using athletics to build bridges of diplomacy.
I’ll let you know if I get any responses.