No days off for soccer fans

The president of the Republic, Juan Carlos Varela , informed the country that he will not declare ’free’ days for when the national team of Panama will be playing in the World Cup in Russia.

What the government will do, he said, is to call on the public and private sectors to look for "creative" ways so that the Panamanians public can watch the three matches happening in Russia.

"The important thing is that all Panamanians can see the three games, and hopefully more, without affecting the economic and social development of the country," he added.

Varela also said that the Ministry of the Presidency has already taken "creative" measures so that officials may enjoy the games. He explained that they will make available meeting rooms so that employees can watch the game.  For his part, the president will accompany the team members in their first match.

The national team, directed by Colombian coach Hernán Darío Gómez, opens on June 18 at the Fisht Stadium in the Russian city of Sochi, against Belgium, starting at 10:00 am, in a match for the group G.

"Without a doubt, I will be in Sochi with them the night before the match, I arrived two nights earlier to Sochi to be with the national team," the official said.

On his trip to Russia, Varela reported that he will be accompanied by a minister (he did not reveal his name) and vice chancellor Luis Miguel Hincapié.

He said that the bilateral meeting with the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, would be on June 14 in the afternoon.

He also stressed that they will have a meeting with executives of the Aeroflot airline.

A local newspaper ran a poll to see if the general public agreed with this decision, it is reported that 55% do not and wanted time off.