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CHARLOTTE, NC (AP) — Cuban soccer player Yosniel Mesa says he defected during a visit to Charlotte because he wants to live and play soccer in the United States.

The Charlotte Observer reported Tuesday that Mesa made arrangements with an American uncle to evade his team’s security crew, which Mesa said often treats traveling athletes “like prisoners.”

The 27-year-old reserve midfielder met his uncle and other family members outside a hotel where the team was staying. They drove straight to Miami, where his uncle lives.

Mesa plans to seek citizenship and find a team where he can play soccer.

Daniel Lafuente with the Cuban American National Foundation in Miami says professional athletes can’t reach the level of stardom or make as much money in Cuba as they can in America.

Information from: The Charlotte Observer, http://www.charlotteobserver.com

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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