Five-time world boxing champion and Panamanian legend Roberto ‘Mano de Piedra’ Durán, and forward Blas Pérez called for “a change” in the way sports money is administered in Panama, during an athletes’ protest against corruption .
Durán, who in 2008 had already raised his voice due to anomalous situations in Panamanian sports, was once again a figure in this type of demonstration by pointing out that they should not “steal money from athletes, because they are the ones who stand up for Panama every time they compete.
«In my time there were enough scoundrels, today there are still. How can they steal from an athlete, if he represents the country, “he commented.
The glory of Panamanian sports assured that the way of supporting athletes must change and that it is not through the leaders, so that funds are not diverted as has allegedly been happening.
“It should be supported more, but not through a leader, because whoever is a thief will continue to be a thief,” said Durán.
The Panamanian Institute of Sports (Pandeportes) is the center of an alleged corruption scandal that erupted after publications by journalists about alleged irregularities in the allocation of resources by that entity to sports federations and associations, several of them chaired by deputies.
The scandal escalated after Parliament introduced changes in the National Budget proposal for 2019 aimed at exempting sports federations from oversight, which led the Executive to partially veto the legislative project.
The comptroller general, Federico Humbert, has said that a preliminary audit identified the irregular handling of more than 9 million dollars between July 2014 and July 2018 in Pandeportes, and that a report on the matter has already been delivered to the Public Ministry.
‘El Cholo’, as Durán is also called, took advantage of the moment and left a message to the athletes, but also threw a right jab at the leaders.
Have faith. Always push forward, do not flinch. To the rulers I tell them to support the athletes, because this starts soft today, but in the future this will be bigger and they will have a worse problem, “he said.
For his part, Blas Pérez made it clear that “when an athlete goes out, it is because he is tired of what is happening.”
This has to change. I do not see why these irregularities have to happen in the management of funds for athletes, “he commented.
The former Tigres de México forward stressed that many people came to the demonstration.
“There are a lot of people, that shows that there is a fatigue on the part of the sports union, although I also think there was a lack of many supporters, I think that next time more people will join, because it is a movement to do justice to the Panamanian athlete,” he mentioned .
He added that it is not a political movement on the part of the athletes, but “it is so that they have a vote within the federations.”
Pérez, who recently announced his retirement from football, pointed out that he supports this type of movement because “the results will not be for me, I am on my way out, but for the youth who have been growing and want to play sports for their country.”
Athletes from different disciplines participated in the protests, led by the Olympic swimmer Diego Castillo, who is the representative of the athletes in the Olympic Committee of Panama (COP).
The protesters gathered on the Paseo Cinta Costera in the capital armed with banners with messages against the leaders and shouting slogans such as “steal our podium”, “no to reelection” of the deputies, and “be corrupt.”
They received the support of the people who circulated through the place in their cars, who sounded the horns and greeted the protesters. EFE