U.S. says Cuba won't be allowed to send team to Baseball Classic

SPORTS DIGEST

Sports Digest

December 15, 2005

Cuba won't be allowed to send a team to next year's inaugural World Baseball Classic, the U.S. government told event organizers yesterday.

The decision by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control was conveyed to Major League Baseball yesterday, according to Pat Courtney, a spokesman for the commissioner's office.

A permit from OFAC is necessary because of U.S. laws governing commercial transactions with the communist island nation.

Paul Archey, the senior vice president of Major League Baseball International, and Gene Orza, the chief operating officer of the Major League Baseball Players Association, issued a joint statement saying the organizers would try to reverse the decision. The commissioner's office and the union have jointly organized the 16-team tournament, which will run March 3-20 in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan.

"We are very disappointed with the government's decision to deny the participation of a team from Cuba in the World Baseball Classic," Archey and Orza said. "We will continue to work within appropriate channels in an attempt to address the government's concerns and will not announce a replacement unless and until that effort fails."

Organizers had said the Cuban team likely would have included only players currently residing in Cuba and not defectors such as Jose Contreras, Orlando Hernandez and Livan Hernandez.

In the tournament schedule announced last week, Cuba was to play its three first-round games in San Juan, Puerto Rico, facing Panama on March 7, the Netherlands on March 9 and Puerto Rico the following day. If the Cubans advanced, they also would have played their second-round games in Puerto Rico.

"It is our policy that we do not confirm, deny or discuss licenses," Treasury spokeswoman Molly Millerwise said in an e-mail to the Associated Press.

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