Until recently, Juan Comingues was unknown to Cubans. He has been gaining notoriety on the island since November 27, 2016, after dedicating a goal to Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro, raising his official jersey to reveal a vest with the message “¡Hasta la Victoria Siempre Fidel!” written on it.
On Monday, February 27, in a ceremony held at the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), the Peruvian soccer player presented the vest to the National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER), in a gesture of solidarity and respect for the Cuban leader.
During a press conference also held at the ICAP headquarters, Comingues noted that he was very sad to hear of the news of the Comandante en Jefe’s passing.
“I felt like I needed to pay tribute to Fidel in some way. We had a match in Peru’s second division on the 27th against Carlos Mannucci and I had a feeling I was going to score. Luck was on my side that day because the player who usually takes penalties was absent, and I asked to be the one to score the winning goal in the 29th minute,” stated the midfielder.
Comingues explained that before kick-off he took the white vest, and with the help of some of his teammates, wrote the tribute message on the back.
“Fidel inspires my life. Ten years ago I underwent an operation on my spine, which could have ended my soccer career, but I sought support in my recovery through the Comandante’s example of overcoming adversity, never giving up or surrendering, no matter what.”
Over the last 14 or 15 years Comingues has collected various books on the life and figure of Fidel Castro; describing the Cuban leader’s defiant character as exemplary and necessary to combat global injustices.
“The joy I felt when I scored and dedicated the goal to Fidel was indescribable.”
The 33 year old soccer player from the city of Callao, also expressed his great sense of pride over the development of Cuba’s sporting movement, while noting that unfortunately in his country athletes don’t receive support from the government, and are often treated like a business opportunity, devoid of values such as camaraderie, solidarity, and altruism.
Participating in the fraternal encounter were representatives from ICAP, INDER, and the Cuban Soccer Association, as well as some of the island’s most outstanding athletes.