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Checkpoint Washington
Posted at 05:37 PM ET, 02/28/2012

At Guantanamo Bay, soccer is in the air again

The new soccer field at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (Courtesy Department of Defense)
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba — When the authorities at Guantanamo Bay closed Camp 4, the open-air, communal-living facility here, and moved the detainees to an indoor facility called Camp 6, the inmates lost the small patch of dirt where they played soccer. Or, as they call it, football.

The competition, though, was not lost forever.

The Pentagon has said it is restoring the glorious game to Gitmo with a new 28,000-square-foot “super-rec” space that includes a field surrounded by a gravel track with shaded areas in the corners. Detainees will reach the field by walking through covered walkways that the military is calling “habitat trails” — rather like the tunnel to the pitch at, say, Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium, but without the crowds.

The cost of the project: $744,000.

Officials here said the detainees had desperately missed their matches and boosting the morale of the inmates makes the job of the guard force easier.

There are two other smaller recreation areas at Camp 6, the facility for detainees who are described by the military as “compliant.” Officials said that 85 percent of the remaining 171 detainees at Guantanamo are held at Camp 6. 

While the cost of the field might seem high, especially for a field with no grass, the cost of pretty much everything at Guantanamo is super-sized. Nearly everything at the military detention center is brought in by barge or plane and construction costs are higher than in the United States.

The authorities said the goalposts at the new field should be up by April. Let the games begin.

By  |  05:37 PM ET, 02/28/2012

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