Half of Cuba’s Hockey Team Defects During Toronto’s Pan-Am Games

They also suffered a devastating loss to the Trinidadian team.

Photo by Flickr user Alex Graves.

Cuba’s field hockey team suffered a pretty devastating loss when eight of its 16 players defected while in Toronto for the Pan-Am games, reports the AFP. A team member named Roger Aguilera, who says the deserters fled to the United States, numbers the defections at seven. The team went to the field against Trinidad & Tobago with only eight members. The impediment resulted in a harsh loss, with the Trinidad & Tobago team racking up 13 points to Cuba’s nil.

Apparently, this year’s Pan-Am tournament has been particularly hard on Cuba’s sports establishment, which also lost four rowers, one of whom was a silver medalist.

These defections are not always political in nature. Players are lured away from their Cuban teams by the prospect of higher salaries and better benefits on Western teams. Just last week, the Cuban soccer team lost four of its players during the Gold Cup—the fourth team member apparently fled “into the darkness” with tears in his eyes.