Panama Marks World Cup Qualification, USA Soccer’s Failure With National Holiday

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Oh, to be from Panama right now.

The Central American nation is celebrating like there’s no tomorrow in the aftermath of its unlikely qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Panama will compete in the world’s biggest sporting event for the first time next summer, and president Juan Carlos Varela marked the occasion by declaring Wednesday a national holiday for its working people.

“The voice of the people has been heard,” Varela wrote on Twitter. “Celebrate this historic day for Panama. Tomorrow is a national holiday.”

“It is a historic day for the country,” he continued. “Tomorrow will be free for the public and private sector workers.”

“On a national holiday also classes are suspended at the country’s private and public schools, celebrate family,” he concluded.

Panama booked its ticket to Russia 2018 Tuesday night with a dramatic win over Costa Rica, combined with USA’s loss to Trinidad and Tobago. The results lifted Panama from fifth place in the CONCACAF hexagonal standings into third and the final automatic qualification spot.

Who can fault Panama’s president for mixing sports and politics in this case?

Thumbnail photo via Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports Images

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