(ATR) The Cuban Baseball Federation denounces a U.S. government decision to cancel an agreement between Cuba and Major League Baseball while the WBSC tells Around the Rings it will "be monitoring the situation closely".
The deal, which was agreed to by MLB, the MLB players association and the Cuban federation in December, would have made it easier for Cuban players to join MLB. The World Baseball Softball Confederation admits it has little say in the Trump administration's decision.
"WBSC’s purview is international baseball and softball, so it is not for us to comment on an individual country’s conditions of entry to compete in a private professional league," the International Federation said.
"WBSC will of course be monitoring the situation closely to ensure the fundamental rights of the athletes are respected," expressed the WBSC in a statement to ATR.
"We fully endorse the objective of the initial MLB deal, which was to protect athletes, and we will be offering our support to the National Federations of Cuba and the United States where appropriate."
The agreement with Cuba's baseball federation would have allowed players from the island to be scouted and signed by the league without having to defect. The system would have been similar to the one currently being used for players coming to MLB from Japan and other Asian leagues, including the payment of a posting fee to the Cuban Baseball Federation (FCB) for the right to sign a player.
The agreement was based on a decision from the Obama administration that allowed the Cuban Baseball Federation to be considered separate from the Cuban government.
The Trump administration argues that the country's baseball federation is actually part of the Cuban government, making the business illegal under current law.
Critics of the agreement, notably U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, feel that the posting fee going to the federation amounts to paying the Cuban government ransom for baseball players.
"The U.S. does not support actions that would institutionalize a system by which a Cuban government entity garnishes the wages of hard-working athletes who simply seek to live and compete in a free society," said Garrett Marquis, a National Security Council spokesman.
Marquis said the administration will work with MLB "to identify ways for Cuban players to have the individual freedom to benefit from their talents, and not as property of the Cuban State."
The Cuban Baseball Federation has denied these accusations and denounced "the use for political purposes of unsustainable arguments that managed to undo the Agreement."
Reported by Miguel Hernandez.