Last month, we wrote in-depth about two Cuban fútbol stars – 22-year-old forward Maykel Reyes and U-23 left back Abel Martínez – participating in Cruz Azul preseason rumbo al Clausura 2016. At that time, the fate of their pro careers lay in the hands of the government, which has historically prohibited its athletes from emigrating to other countries since the triumph of the Cuban revolution.
Now, it is with overwhelming joy and delight that we write with an update on their historic journey: both Reyes and Martínez have signed contracts with Cruz Azul, making them the first futbolistas from the Caribbean island to join a foreign league.
Reyes will join Cruz Azul Premier and Martínez Cruz Azul Hidalgo, reserve teams currently playing in Mexico’s Segunda División. Depending on their performances over the next 12 months, they could get a shot at first team action as well.
According to JIT, César Varela Mora, a club legal representative, explained that the two will play 17 matches in this Liguilla. The hope is that they “develop more in order to be able to see them play for the first team.”
Martínez said that he and Reyes “hope to contribute everything they have to offer in Mexico in order to win with the team, improve their levels of play, and in turn improve Cuban fútbol.”
This is a massive step for Cuban fútbol, the first taken by trailblazers looking to put their country back on the world fútbol map.