MIAMI – Controversial political protests took the spotlight from the World Baseball Classic over the weekend in Miami.
Many protestors gathered outside Loan Depot Park, where Cuba Faced off against the United States on Sunday.
Cameras were rolling from inside the ballpark where three protestors rushed the field during the game. Security members were seen chasing down the men, who were later removed and taken into custody.
Antonio Fernandez, Danilo Maldonado-Machado and Carlos Alvarez are all facing trespassing charges.
There were also reports on Monday of an apparent defection by a member of the Cuban team.
The Twitter account, @YordiMLB is reporting that Ivan Prieto, a catcher for the Cuban team, did not return to Cuba following the game.
Jugador del equipo Cuba en el Clásico no regresa al país https://t.co/FiINuFR1JX— Yordano Carmona (@YordiMLB) March 20, 2023
Local 10 News is working to confirm the details on where Prieto is right now and if he is in fact defecting.
This was the first time since 2006 the Cuban national team advanced to the semi-finals. Some people came as fans, and others with signs denouncing the Cuban regime.
Cuban exiles like Elpidiao Morejon told Local 10 News that the Cuban government notoriously uses sports to spread its propaganda and political influence.
“As great as they are as players, they’re representing the dictatorship. They are not representing the people of Cuba,” he said.
For some, including Michel Salegna whose girlfriend was born in Cuba, the game quickly turned political.
“I just feel like it’s a game, people should root for whoever they want to root for and that’s that. Who does she root for. She roots for Cuba but you know I’m going to root for USA and that’s fine we both love each other so it’s fine,” said Salegna.
US won the game on Sunday, 14-2, advancing to the final.