This is despite the pre-World Cup coverage, which at times, has been rather unflattering toward to the host nation. In fact, one could say that the headlines have been downright scathing. Fans have been warned not travel to the tournament, and in some cases, the papers pushed their ‘matter of life or death’ agendas.
Nevertheless, hundreds of thousands of fans have pushed on through the media fog. Waving aside the ‘warnings’, and pocketing their Fan-ID’s, they have embarked on a once in a lifetime excursion, to the World Cup 2018. Did they make the right decision?
“The country is amazing. Especially the girls! It is totally different from what we heard before in our home countries. Lots of people in our country told us to be careful, they said “the Russian people are very aggressive’. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. Russian people are very welcoming, we really feel secure.”
In the city of Nizhny Novgorod, where England will be going head to head with Panama on Sunday, there is a nice sample of supporters from both teams. The Panamanians seem rather confident about the upcoming match, but how did they feel about travelling to Russia? Did the media storm hit Panama? It seems not!
“No, in Panama we didn’t have any bad press in the lead up to the World Cup. We were always very excited to come, just as we are excited to be here!”
This is the first time Panama has made it to the tournament, and for many of the supporters here, it’s their first time travelling to Russia.
“It is nice here, we feel very safe, the vibe is great, but mostly it is marvellous to be involved in the World Cup!”
For the Panamanian’s, ‘first time jitters’ don’t seem to exist. They seem very confident indeed. In fact, these supporters are warning England to ‘beware’, as according to them, a win from Panama is a near certainty.
‘You know what? They said the same thing four years ago, with Brazil. We were in Brazil, we were in Manaus. They said we’d be murdered, beaten up, and none of that came true. The people couldn’t be nicer! It’s the same here as well, it’s been a breeze.’