Every four years, one month comes around that grabs the attention of the entire world and showcases the worlds best teams and players in the spectacle known as the World Cup. Soccer, or football, is considered the most popular sport on the planet and this year the Panamanian national team gets the chance to represent the nation in Russia for the first time in the country’s history. The Fifa World Cup has the ability to bring people together in support of their country. Fans of the sport alongside everyday people gather to watch and admire “the beautiful game” in the worlds most viewed sporting event.
Panama secured direct qualification for the first time ever in the most unprecedented way. After 32 years of struggling to qualify, Panama was lead out by head coach Hernan Dario Gomez to their final game of qualifiers. According to statistics, Panama had below a 5% chance of becoming one of the 32 teams to feature in Russia during the summer of 2018. Many games had to swing in favour of Panama, maybe Panama even needed a miracle. On the night of October 10th, 2017, Panama got exactly that. Panama managed a win versus Costa Rica with a miraculous goal in the closing stages of the game and The United States was not able to win versus Trinidad and Tobago. This meant qualification for Panama and one of their biggest rivals, the U.S, missing out on the World Cup.
Qualification turned the relatively small country of Panama into a frenzy. The following day was given off in celebration and the roads were closed. A dream for many Panamanians had become a reality, and to do it in such fashion made everything much more surreal. Newspapers were headlined with news about the national team, but the people did not need reminding, as this was a day to remember and a very special moment for the country. The World Cup encompasses the idea of national pride and this was seen throughout Panama. The idea of being able to see Panama represented on a global stage next to some of the largest countries is an incredible joy for the people of Panama.
There are many implications from Panama qualifying for the World Cup; this can be a very progressive step for Panama. The national team managed to make history and will have the chance to represent the people back home against Belgium, England and Tunisia in June. The people know that advancing from the group will be difficult but for now qualification and representation will be enough to please the supporters. Also, after the shock and surprise of Panama’s qualification, who knows, maybe they can cause another upset on the world stage. The World Cup also helps showcase Panama to the world and allows Panama to make a name for themselves to the World. This tournament can have substantial effects on Panama outside of soccer and could help improve the country. Many more people will learn and hear about the country of Panama if it hasn’t happened yet. Around 3.2 billion people watched the finals in 2014, and that, compared to Panama’s population of 4 million really puts things into perspective. Panama has an opportunity not just to play the beautiful game but to show the country to the world.
Panama goes into the World Cup with its entire country watching and supporting them for the first time in their history. A small country with little experience has the opportunity to make big waves on the world’s largest stage. This world cup will affect Panama in many ways, and it’s guaranteed that the Panamanians will soak up this moment.