Wilfredo Leon has posted a video on his personal Instagram page announcing that he has been cleared by the FIVB to play for the Polish national team:
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Drodzy Kibice, Dzisiaj dostałem oficjalną wiadomość, że Światowa Federacja Siatkówki zarejestrowała mnie jako polskiego zawodnika. Chcę podziękować za wsparcie, które od Was dostaję. Szczególnie pomogli mi: – Pan Mirosław Przedpełski w kontaktach z FIVB, – Pan Paweł Mirek Wachowiak w sprawach administracyjnych, – PZPS z Prezesem Jackiem Kasprzykiem na czele w kwestiach finansowych, – Pan Tomasz Dauerman w kwestiach prawnych, – Pan Andrzej Grzyb w kwestiach merytorycznych. Jestem gotowy do gry w Reprezentacji Polski. Mam nadzieję, że nastąpi to w jak najbliższym czasie. Do zobaczenia na meczu biało-czerwonych! Wilfredo Leon Venero
This comes as an unexpected surprise. We had reported recently that the president of the Polish Volleyball Federation, Jacek Kasprzyk, told Sport.pl that Wilfredo Leon would be 100% sure to be eligible to play for Poland at the 2019 European Championships. However, the same Jacek Kasprzyk later retracted himself in an interview, saying that his comment were “a little wrong,” and reiterated that Polish authorities are still waiting on information from the FIVB:
“We are still waiting for full information. I do not confirm nor deny anything. When we have everything on paper, then we will call an official conference and announce the news.”
As of right now, the FIVB has not issued a statement on the matter. If Leon’s eligibility issues are indeed fully resolved, he will be expected to make his debut with the Polish national team at either the 2019 FIVB World League or at the 2019 European Champs.
Leon defected from Cuba 4 years ago and received his Polish citizenship on June 24, 2016 – opting not to compete for the Cuban National Team with whom he had played from 2007-2012 (beginning when he was just 14 years old). He was called a traitor in Cuba for his decision, but remained steadfast in his desire to represent Poland.
Leon is currently playing with Zenit Kazan in the Russian league (where he teams up with American wing spiker Matt Anderson) with whom he has won the last 3 European Champions Leagues in addition to 7 domestic league and cup titles in 3 seasons. Leon was named the best outside hitter of the 2017 Champions League and the MVP of the 2016 and 2015 events. He is among the highest paid volleyball players in the world. Previous reports have put his salary around 500,000 (USD), but according to the Slovenia website siol.net, the Cuban wing spiker, still only 23 years old, makes an astounding 1.4 million (USD) annually from his Russian club.
Meanwhile, fellow Cuban Yoandry Leal has had all his requirements and paperwork accepted and will be cleared to defend Brazil in the following months. Also, Robertlandy Simon, Cuban middle blocker that is currently playing for Sada/Cruzeiro, has expressed desire to defend the Canadian national team.