Cuba won't collect WBC runner-up prize money

Cuba's prize money from the first World Baseball Classic has become collateral damage in the four-decade battle between President Fidel Castro and the United States.

Castro said he wanted to donate the money to victims of Hurricane Katrina, but U.S. officials say Cuba isn't getting any prize money.

Cuba finished second in the 16-nation competition, and the runner-up was entitled to 7 percent of the tournament's profits. But under the 1962 U.S. trade embargo, Havana had to forfeit its cut to get U.S. approval to play.

Castro, welcoming Cuba's players home as champions despite their 10-6 loss to Japan in Monday's championship game in San Diego, said Tuesday that the Cuban prize money would be donated to Katrina victims.

The Bush administration, however, is not prepared to allow such altruism by the Cuban leader.

A Major League Baseball official said the deal that allowed Cuba to play in the tournament, which was reached in February with the U.S. State Department and agreed to by Cuba, made it "crystal clear" that Havana would not receive any share of the profits, even for charity.

"Cuba doesn't have a cut of the proceeds of the tournament, and there is nothing for Cuba to donate," MLB spokesman Patrick Courtney said by telephone from New York.

If there are any unassigned net revenues, MLB would consider a donation to an as-yet-undetermined charitable or humanitarian cause, he said.

Cuba denounced "foul play" in a front-page editorial on Friday in the ruling Communist Party newspaper Granma.

There may not be any cash left over to distribute to the WBC winners, anyway, because the 17-day, 39-game tournament played at seven venues in Asia and the United States cost so much, an estimated $50 million.