New Reno 1868 FC forward Luis Paradela is believed to be the first Cuban national to compete in the United States on a P-1A visa as he arrives on loan at the Championship club. | Photo courtesy David Calvert / Reno 1868 FC
RENO, Nev. – Reno 1868 FC made history on Thursday as it acquired Cuban forward Luis Javier Paradela Diaz on loan from Guatemalan club Universidad San Carlos. Born in Cuba and is a current Cuban citizen, Paradela becomes the first Cuban athlete to sign in the United States for a professional sports franchise on a P-1A athlete visa.
A P-1A Athlete classification applies to a player coming temporarily to the United States solely for the purpose of performing at a specific athletic competition as:
An individual athlete at an internationally recognized level of performance;
Part of a group or team at an internationally recognized level of performance;
A professional athlete; or
An athlete or coach, as part of a team or franchise that is located in the United States and a member of a foreign league or association.
Based on current available information, Paradela is the only Cuban athlete in the United States who is actively in consideration to represent Cuba for soccer in men’s national team selection.
“With our partners at the San Jose Earthquakes, we’ve sought to identify the best talent worldwide for Reno 1868 FC. Huge credit to our Operations Manager, Robert Ritchie, and our legal partners at Pabian Law for shepherding Luis through this unique process,” said Reno 1868 FC president Eric Edelstein. “We are happy to have Luis and look forward to him being a part of our club.”
Luis Paradela has made nine appearances for Cuba in his career, including three starts at the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup. | Photo courtesy David Calvert / Reno 1868 FC
The 22-year-old has made nine appearances for Cuba, including starting all three of the country’s games at the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup. In the Concacaf Nations League Qualifiers in late 2018 to early 2019, Paradela recorded five goals and three assists to help the side qualify for the Gold Club, while also earning Cuba a place in League A of this fall’s Concacaf Nations League, which will see the country play Canada and the United States in Group A of the new tournament.
During the process of securing a loan agreement with Paradela’s club in Guatemala, 1868 FC maintained transparent and detailed communications with the Football Association of Cuba (La Asociación de Fútbol de Cuba), in an effort to ensure Paradela not only continues to progress his club career in Northern Nevada, but also maintain his ability to be considered for selection by his country.
“He’s a versatile player. He can play up front or wide, he has speed and he’s strong,” said Reno Head Coach Ian Russell. “He looks to be a good addition as we close the year. He’s young and he’s already scoring international goals, he’s got experience playing against some good teams.”