January 6, 1999

German fourth-division club hires Cuban national team

.c The Associated Press, Jan 6

BONN, Germany (AP) -- A German fourth-division soccer club has signed the entire Cuban national team, capping eight months of negotiations.

A fax from Luis Hernandez Herez, president of the Cuban soccer federation, confirming the deal has arrived in Bonn, Bonner SC business manager Gerd Demann said today.

The Cubans are scheduled to arrive Jan. 31.

The group includes 15 players, two coaches, an interpreter, a physiotherapist and a cook. They will be housed in a refurbished school near Bonn and will practice twice a day in the former West German capital.

The German club, which hopes the Cubans will help it gain promotion to the third division, will provide food and lodging, medical insurance and ``a little bit of pocket money.'' The contract is valid for six months, but could be extended, Demann said.

``The entire Cuban national team is coming, so I assume that they are the best players Cuba has to offer,'' Demann said. ``Stars such as Lazaro Darcourt, Manuel Bobadilla, Osmin Hernandez and Ariel Alvarez are among them.

``At the beginning, we really wanted to hire only four players, but that was not possible. They wanted the team to stay together, so we took all of them.''

Bonner SC will arrange international friendly games for the Cubans.

Demann said not all Cubans were expected to start for the Bonner SC.

``Coach Rainer Thomas is alone responsible for the lineup, they will be treated according to their performance,'' Demann said.

Demann said the club had received many inquiries from new sponsors.

Club officials got the idea of hiring the Cubans after watching video tapes of their games.

German amateur clubs can field as many foreigners as they want to.

Bonner SC still has to secure visas for the Cubans, but Demann said he expected to problems.

``This is development aid for Cuban soccer, I can't see anyone objecting,'' he said. ``It has nothing to do with politics.''

AP-NY-01-06-99 0745EST

Copyright 1999 The Associated Press


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