Two Panama newspapers were banned from attending Wednesday night’s scheduled friendly match between the home side and Spain, apparently because they ran reports on the financial implications of the match. Panama’s National Association of Journalists called the ban “outrageous.”
The two newspapers, La Prensa and Mi Diario, were informed of the withdrawal of their accreditations the day before Wednesday night’s game — Journalists’ Day in the Central American country. “I can only assume that [the organizers] weren’t too happy that the two publications touched upon the matter,” said sports editor at La Prensa, Rafael Calvo.
On Tuesday, La Prensa published an article reporting that the match would cost Panama three million dollars, payable to the Spanish Football Federation, while its counterpart would pocket a tenth of that.
A day earlier, Mi Diario ran a front-page story that claimed “behind the match is a suspicious network of businesses with money of doubtful origin that favor only those close to power. Few people win. The people, as always, will be the ones who end up paying the deficit.” Ticket prices for the game ranged from 45 Panama dollars to 1,200.
The Panama Football Association said it had nothing to do with accreditations, which are granted by the match organizers, Showpro and Shockwave. “We all know that when a journalist speaks against anything, the first thing to do is exclude them. This isn’t a democracy,” said the director of the journalists’ association.