HAVANA — Cuba announced Friday that island athletes will be allowed to sign contracts to compete in foreign leagues, a shift from decades of policy that held professional sports to be anathema to socialist ideals.
The measure promises to greatly increase the amount of money baseball players and others are able to earn, and seems geared toward stemming a continuing wave of defections by athletes who are lured abroad by the possibility of lucrative contracts, sapping talent from national squads.
Athletes will be eligible to play abroad as long as they fulfill their commitments at home, the Communist Party newspaper Granma reported.
“It will be taken into account that they are in Cuba for the fundamental competitions of the year,” Granma said.
The paper said the decision was approved at a recent session of the Council of Ministers, which is headed up by President Raul Castro.