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MLB Confirms That It’s Pulling Out of Venezuelan Baseball League

Eben Novy-Williams

(Bloomberg) -- Major League Baseball is barring players from participating in the Venezuelan Winter League, citing an executive order issued by President Donald Trump.

Venezuelans are well represented on MLB teams, and it’s common for them to play in their home country’s league during the offseason. American players also have participated in the league to gain an edge, including aspiring greats such as Pete Rose and Barry Bonds. But Trump stepped up sanctions on the country this month, adding immigration restrictions and freezing the government’s assets.

“MLB will fully adhere to the policies implemented by our government,” the league said in an emailed statement. “With respect to the Venezuelan Winter League, MLB will suspend its involvement in that league until it receives direction from the relevant agencies that participation by affiliated players is consistent with the executive order.”

Reuters previously reported on the decision, citing people close to the Venezuelan league.

Despite Venezuela’s rich baseball history, MLB teams have taken previous steps to distance themselves from the country. In the 1990s, there were more than 20 teams with academies in Venezuela; by 2015, there were just four left.

Trump’s order followed months of unsuccessful efforts to pressure Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro into leaving office. Those include the U.S. recognition of Juan Guaido, the head of Venezuela’s national assembly, as the country’s legitimate leader, and the imposition of sanctions on more than 100 Venezuelan individuals and entities, including the state-run oil company.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eben Novy-Williams in New York at enovywilliam@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net, Michael Hytha

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