- Title: Cubans, U.S. come together for first soccer friendly in 69 years
- Date: 8th October 2016
- Summary: HAVANA, CUBA (OCTOBER 7, 2016) (REUTERS) CUBAN AND U.S. SOCCER TEAMS IN STADIUM JILL BIDEN (WEARING NUMBER 16 JERSEY), WIFE OF U.S. VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN, AND OTHER OFFICIALS APPLAUDING
- Embargoed: 23rd October 2016 00:24
- Keywords: soccer Cuba United States of America USA
- Location: HAVANA, CUBA
- City: HAVANA, CUBA
- Country: Cuba
- Topics: Soccer,Sport
- Reuters ID: LVA001530DPVN
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Cuban and American soccer fans joined Jill Biden, wife of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden in Havana on Friday (October 7) to watch the first soccer friendly on the island between the former Cold War foes in nearly seven decades.
The U.S. men's national soccer team on Friday (October 7) beat Cuba 2-0 in the first friendly between the countries in 69 years, but the defeat did not dampen the spirits of local fans at the Estadio Pedro Marrero excited for the symbolism of the match.
In December 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced a historic diplomatic opening that ended an estrangement between the two countries that began after the Cuban revolution.
Since rapprochement, the two sides have restored diplomatic ties, increased exchanges, signed commercial deals and the U.S. has loosened trade and travel restrictions.
American soccer fan Jesse Howe said the opportunity for the U.S. to play in Cuba would support the growth of soccer in the Caribbean nation and at home.
"This is a perfect opportunity for us to show how much we can grow the game internationally in Cuba and the United States. Soccer is not the most popular sport in the U.S., but its growing. It's beautiful. Just like soccer is not the most popular sport in Cuba, baseball is right now. So it's something that I think we can support, and were so happy to be here," he said.
The friendly comes as the two countries continue to work towards normalising relations, including an end of an embargo on the Caribbean nation.
The U.S. team will play New Zealand on the 11th in Washington, D.C. and opens the next stage of World Cup qualifying against rivals Mexico at home in Columbus, Ohio on November 11.
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