Soccer match in Cuba could help mend US-Cuba relations

Soccer Match in Cuba Could Help Mend US-Cuba Relations
Soccer Match in Cuba Could Help Mend US-Cuba Relations

More than 50 years after the U.S.-imposed embargo on Cuba strained relations and another three decades since the teams hit the soccer pitch together, the New York Cosmos are set to play the Cuban National Team on Tuesday.

The team arrived in Havana Monday with former Brazilian soccer star and former Cosmos player Pele in tow.

"I'm happy when there are moments of peace, moments to bring people together. It's a great joy to be here during this time when soccer is helping bring peace for Cuba and the United States," Pele said during a press conference.

This is the first time since the Chicago Sting in 1978 that a U.S. pro soccer team has played in Cuba. Then-President Jimmy Carter was attempting to better relations with the country. Sports just have a way of bringin' us all together.

Carter opened non-diplomatic relations with the country in the late 70s, but it wasn't until January this year until relations with the two sides eased. The U.S. just recently removed Cuba from its state sponsors of terrorism list.

Although the New York Cosmos' needed the White House's approval and help to get to Cuba, the match is seen as an unofficial way to mend relations.

Soccer isn't the only sport hoping to hit the field in Cuba. Baseball has been popular in the country for years, and the nation's still added tons of talent to Major League Baseball rosters.

MLB commissioner Robert Manfred said the league is exploring games in Cuba in the near future.

"Cuba is a great source of talent, we've seen that, and we're always interested in a new source of talent," Manfred told ESPN.

Although no games are currently in place. The Cosmos kick off against the Cuban National Team at 5 p.m. EST on ESPN.