Football: Germans sign up Cuba team

MANCHESTER UNITED have followed the recent trend of forging links with a foreign team to provide their players with experience and, perhaps, bring some new blood into Old Trafford.

Never mind Antwerp, now a German Fourth Division club has gone one better by joining forces with an entire country, Cuba.

Bonner SC, based in Bonn, intend to give a completely new meaning to open-door policies in international football - by signing the entire Cuban national team. The idea being that their inclusion will help them gain promotion.

A club delegation will travel to Cuba on Sunday for talks with Cuban football federation officials, according to German newspaper reports yesterday. They hope to sign a deal by next Wednesday.

In return for allowing the entire team to practice and play in Germany, the Cubans would receive balls, boots, kit and other equipment.

The Bonn club could release any players on loan, but the transfer rights would remain with the Cuban federation. The Cubans would come with their coach, William Bennett, and would also play exhibition games against smaller European nations. The Cubans would still be available for all World Cup qualifying games under the extravagant proposal.

"The Cubans want to develop their team and let it learn tactics in Europe," Hans Viol , the Bonner SC chairman told a Bonn newspaper.

Rainer Thomas, the Bonner SC coach, said that he would retain the core of his current team and that the Cubans would practice separately. "Maybe three, maybe eight" could make the starting line-up, Thomas said.