For most Canadian national team fans, Panama was just another country in the second round group stage they had to win against at least once, ideally twice, to get to the six team final round of World Cup qualifying.

When the Canadian Soccer Association sent out a press release showing fans gathered outside the stadium on Sunday night, it was kind of cute. Because Canada beat them at BMO in Toronto in a fairly tame match (ball-hiding aside), Panama needed to win at home to stay alive. So of course Panamanian supporters would do everything within their power to gain advantage.

Since then, for whatever reason, the hotel party story gained traction both here in Canada and in Panama. Panama’s official national team Twitter feed apparently Tweeted in support of the gathering, only to later delete it.

Meanwhile radio shows like CBC Toronto’s Metro Morning drew attention to the fireworks, lasers, trumpets, and drums, likely because the old hat tactic is still a novelty for a media that doesn’t normally focus about the mens national team in WCQs (usually because by this time they’d have one point and a chance in hell of making the Hex). The Sun’s Kurt Larson has a running blog with video of the all-night pep rally.

Casual fans are upset because, you know, Canadians would never do this sort of thing (they should of course, even though the police wouldn’t get it and would break it up fairly quickly because other, non-soccer-playing people stay in hotels in Toronto). The CSA is attempting to drive up the anger with releasing videos accompanied by words like “shocking” and “intimidation,” rather than more appropriate terms like “silly”, “vaguely desperate” and “bush league.”

Apparently the noise went on until 4 AM. Fine, Canadians might be a little weary today, which might mean something on the pitch, but likely shouldn’t. But now Panama are no longer just another Central American team we have to beat away. Instead, as far as rivalry is concerned, their generally par-for-the-course jerkball now makes them kind of a Honduras lite. That gives Canada a bit more of a drive to humiliate their home fans, and crush their puny World Cup dream in their own back yard. We may eat these words of course, but it’s worth the risk to have them on the table. So thanks, noise makers.

Comments (4)

  1. Exactly. It’s not like they’re endangering or hurting the players in any way. Seems naively Canadian and silly to think that everything is just going to go wonderfully down there. They give a shit. So what. As long as no one is hurt and play goes on without any hitches, all good.

  2. “That gives Canada a bit more of a drive to humiliate their home fans, and crush their puny World Cup dream in their own back yard.”

    Welcome Mr. Whittall. Welcome to the dark side. =)

  3. Dear Mr. Whitall, I will gladly treat you to a cyber drink so you can swallow your words a lot easier. I don’t understand what game was it that people saw here on friday, but if it wasn’t for the “sandlot” goal scored by Canada, that game would have most likely ended in a draw. To all the new players in the canadian team, welcome to WCQ in Concacaf, you had your taste of real football fans and got to see first hand how to score real goals. As for your next games, I really hope that Canada somehow squeaks into the next round, is not going to be easy, especially in Honduras, and yes, Panama with our puny dream of WC participation got the job done in San Pedro Sula, with the same prescription we gave Canada 2 goals to nothing. I hope that we see each other once again in the next round on the pitch, if not, better luck in 4 years.

  4. Mr. Whittall: It’s true that the “intimidation tactics” (as your press exaggeratedly called them) seem silly or desperate. But in Latin America, the whole “let’s make noise when their team comes and at their hotel” is more common than you think. It’s not about not letting the players sleep. It’s about making it known to the visiting team that we are taking the game seriously. Consider it a sign of respect. This is usually reserved for Costa Rica (traditional rivals), the U.S. (given our weird history) or Mexico (the usual bullies for Central Am. teams). And you saw the passion of the fans in the stadium. We wanted that game more than your team, and we took those three points.
    Our fans were called classless for their antics. Your colleagues called us via twitter “third world”, “jungle boys”, “unemployed”, “ditch diggers”, that we “should feel embarassed for being called Panamanians”. I’d say that’s more coward, classless and narrowminded than making noise in a street, as they would never tell that to me in my face. We’re all passionate for our teams, but respect should be mutual.
    I wish your team the best, and hope you guys best Honduras. As HinchaRojo said, it’s not impossible. Now I’ll go back and keep dreaming my puny World Cup dream.

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