Venezuela’s economic crisis chokes national soccer team

AP Photo/Jorge Saenz

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) Venezuela’s top soccer official said the national team’s finances are being gutted by the country’s economic crisis and that if relief doesn’t come soon some top players may sit out future World Cup qualifiers.

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In a press conference Thursday, Laureano Gonzalez said state-run oil company PDVSA hadn’t made contributions to the national squad for months and contributions from other sponsors had plunged in value as a result of triple-digit inflation and the currency’s collapse on the black market to about a hundredth of its recently-devalued official rate. He also said the government hadn’t liquidated promised dollar purchases.

He said given the economic reality and expected budget cuts for the squad he wouldn’t be surprised if some players decline call-ups when the “Vinotinto” plays next month against Peru and Chile.