After Vos Marketing, the company that represents the Spanish Football Federation and players like David Villa, was contacted for the first time, ShowPro and Shockwave, two local show promoters, proposed to the Panamanian Football Federation (FEPAFUT) the possibility of playing a game against the current world champion and leading team of Europe.
Pedro Chaluja, president of FEPAFUT, confirmed that "they invited us and formally proposed the game to us. We came to a local agreement and then signed the invitation to the Spanish Football Federation."
The Spanish Federation did not hesitate to accept the offer to participate in a friendly match that would generate more than $3 million for its coffers. FEPAFUT, meanwhile, would receive on the order of $300,000.
Investment and dividends
For the show-down tomorrow between Panama and Spain, ShowPro and Shockwave make the investment and pay both federations. However, they will not have to pay any fee for the use of the Rommel Fernández stadium.
The stadium manager, Rita Arcia, revealed that there is no charge for use of the facility, since the national team of Panama will be playing in the game. Nevertheless, the event organizers prepped parts of the stadium, specifically the locker room that the Spanish team will use.
The organizers, through the company Multimedia Solutions, will also receive payment of $500,000 from the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP).
The government group directly hired this company, whose legal representative is José María De Nicolo, to promote the country throughout the match: advertisements of Panama will be displayed along the perimeter fence of the soccer field; the ATP will have the right to use images and filmed footage of three Spanish players stating promotional phrases about Panama; and will also have the right to place an advertisement in the international television coverage of the game, broadcast by the company IEC in Sports. The agreement, however, does not include broadcasting the advertisement in Spain, the other country besides Panama where this encounter would stimulate the most interest.
As for ShowPro and Shockwave, they would recover their investment through sponsors, though the amount contributed is unknown.
Cable & Wireless Panama, FCC, Lotto, Hertz, Latina University, Fantastic Casino and Baru Brewery are listed as sponsors.
The Super 99, of the Martinelli family, and Panama America, the newspaper that President Ricardo Martinelli has publicly said to have stock in, are also sponsors.
On previous occasions, the game promoters have organized events somehow linked to the government.
Such is the case of the parade of balloons along the Coastal Strip, run by the City Hall of Panama, the gala and performance of The Nutcracker ballet, co-organized by the National Institute of Culture and the Office of the First Lady, and the football game between Panama and Honduras that was shown on giant screens on the Coastal Strip.
Another source of income for the Panama-Spain duel is from ticket sales, priced anywhere from $45 to $1,200, which has brought even Spanish news programs to comment on as being expensive admission.
At the last official game the Spanish team played in Madrid on October 16 against France, tickets cost from 30 euros (just under $40) to 85 euros ($110).
In Panama, tickets sold slowly at first. De Nicolo pointed out that there was some disbelief that stars from the Spanish team would show up. In fact, some ticket prices dropped as a result, and a seat that had cost $115 was available for $58 online. Tickets worth over $500 could be bought for just $380.
Last Friday the Spanish coach Vicente del Bosque announced the line-up for this game. Although there are several notable absences, such as Xavi Hernández, Xabi Alonso and Fernando Torres, the confirmation of the arrival of Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos and Andrés Iniesta, coupled with cheaper prices, bolstered ticket sales.
Alfredo Arias, manager of ShowPro, said that soon they would have nearly 90% of the stadium capacity sold. Should that happen, it would be the sign that it is game on for Panama, something that was still undefined at press time.