To complete a trio of posts on Latin American soccer...
By an accident of history, the game of baseball, the favourite sport of these two presidents (Chavez and Castro) and the national sport of both their countries, is also the preferred game of the United Sates, the chief imperial power in the region and the champion of the neo-liberal philosophy against which both these radical leaders have directed their rhetoric. Che Guevara, an Argentinian-turned-Cuban, once argued that the Cuban revolution would never make much headway in Latin America unless the Cubans learnt to play soccer, while Henry Kissinger, a US secretary of state of German origin, believed that the future of US hegemony in the continent would depend on the capacity of the United States to adapt to the same game. In practice, the Cubans and the Venezuelans (and the Nicaraguans) have remained content to engage in the demonstrably imperialist sport of baseball -- and are very good at it.
- Richard Gott
On a related note, it is a curiosity that for all of America's influence on culture around the globe -- films, music, television, religion etc. -- it has had little influence in the realm of sport. Football (as, for example, Texans would understand the term), basketball and baseball remain distinctly American pastimes. Explanations?