Cubans surrender to soccer's charm

HAVANA, June 15 (Xinhua) -- One every four years, Cubans leave behind their passion for baseball and surrender themselves to soccer's charm at World Cup.

Cubans, who are very passionate, openly support the Latin American national teams, especially Brazil and Argentina, though many also follow Spain's national team.

The soccer fever is fed thanks to the live broadcast of the total 64 matches.

Four of the most centric and big cinemas in Havana -Yara, Riviera, La Ramba are open to live show the World Cup games. Crowds of fans, especially young ones, go to cheer their favorite teams as if they were in some Brazilian stadiums.

Many people also gather to watch the games at cafeterias and restaurants throughout the island.

Flags, jerseys and other souvenirs are carried by Cuban fans as if they were part of the crowd in Brazil.

In Havana's Central Park, one of the most important places to watch sports in the country, many people gather daily to discuss and make forecasts about the final.

"This World Cup has to be for Brazil," said Domingo Sanchez, who admits to know more about baseball and boxing than soccer but "I like how Brazilians play."

Juan Carlos Fernandez cheers the Argentine team led by Alejandro Sabella and which includes soccer star Lionel Messi, who has lots of fans in Cuba.

"I hope Argentina will be champion again and Lionel Messi will show all his capabilities and become the tournament's top scorer," said Fernandez.

With a more balanced opinion, Rene Castro says his favorite team is Spain "despite the surprising defeat against the Netherlands. Spain is still the champion and it will certainly recover."

The favorite players of the Cuban people include, besides Messi, Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo and Brazilian Neymar.