NEW YORK – Major League Baseball is banning players from participating in the Venezuelan Winter League in one of the first public repercussions of new U.S. economic sanctions against the Venezuelan government.
MLB said Thursday it is in contact with the U.S. government to determine how to proceed under the new sanctions against President Nicolas Maduro’s administration and at least temporarily suspending involvement in the league.
The Venezuelan Winter League is one many that major league players use to hone their skills in the offseason.
“MLB will fully adhere to the policies implemented by our government,” MLB announced in a statement.
President Donald Trump’s administration issued a broad ban blocking companies and individuals from doing business with Maduro’s socialist government earlier this month, putting the nation on a short list of U.S. adversaries — including Cuba, North Korea and Iran — targeted with such aggressive financial measures.
The Wall Street Journal reported that MLB’s decision also applies to minor league players, but it won’t prevent Venezuelan players from returning home during the offseason.
Venezuela has long served as an important incubator for big league talent, but in recent years the relationship has steadily deteriorated amid a political crisis and economic contraction far worse than the Great Depression. MLB teams have shut down their academies in Venezuela and no longer send scouts.
Teams of young, aspiring Venezuelan baseball players now regularly rely on Venezuelan MLB stars to help finance trips to compete in championships.
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