In an effort to capture the action of a football game in Panama, I went to the Rommel Fernández Stadium at Juan Díaz. Before I go on, let me clarify that in this neck of the woods, football is the equivalent of soccer in the United States. Panama is becoming addicted to this game, after giving it a cold shoulder for years. Baseball was the preferred sports. Not anymore. That stadium was filled to capacity last night.
Panama national team was playing with the national team of El Salvador in preparation for the Golden Cup and the next FIFA World Cup to be celebrated in Brazil in 2014. They said it was a friendly match, but we all know both teams were programmed to fight tooth and nail to come out with a victory. Panama won the match 1-0, although their performance was a little less than mediocre.
The match started at 09:00 p.m. sharp. However, I got to the venue at 5:00 p.m. to insure I had a parking space and avoid the long lines at the entrance of the building. Everything went smoothly as planned. I was comfortably seated in my place at 6:30 p.m. looking for potential places and people to photograph.
Below are some main highlights of the event:
- Beer is heavily promoted. It flowed generously in the stadium consumed by both adults and very young kids. I was impressed in seeing young girls drinking beer, one plastic container after the other. The sale of beer was out of control.
- Girls are wearing very short and tight hot pants instead of the traditional jeans. Every single one of them had the classical cellphone in their hands. Blackberrys were the most preferred.
- Vendors were everywhere doing an excellent job in selling their stuff. They sold beer, sodas, pizzas, ceviche, tacos and hamburgers. You had no excuse to be thirsty or hungry.
- Prices were very reasonable. I paid $9.50 for the preserved West Section usually attended by middle class fans. The general admittance had a price tag of $8.00. This section was sold out two days before the event.
- Children were present at the game, but not as much as I saw in baseball games.
- The organization of the event was first-class. Everything flowed smoothly and on time which is not usual in this part of the world.
- The official colors of the Panama team is red, so the whole stadium was dyed in red. Not being a sports fan, I wore a white shirt which contrasted with the bright red background. I felt shy.
- Total revenue was $121,000 paid by 14,000 football fans. Not bad for a friendly game.
Below are several pictures taken during the event. They will give you an idea of the general atmosphere inside a football game in Panama. Here we go.
All of these picture were shot with a compact point-and-shoot camera with automatic settings, no flash and without a tripod. The name of the camera is Canon PowerShot A720 IS. With a price tag of only $249.00 its results are more than generous. Good Day.