Five-time world boxing champion and Panamanian legend Roberto "Manos de Piedra" Durán, and World Cup forward Blas Pérez today called for "a change" in the way sports money is administered in Panama, during a protest by athletes against corruption.
Durán, who in 2008 had already raised his voice due to anomalous situations in Panamanian sport, returned to be a figure in this type of demonstrations when pointing out that they should not "steal the money from the athletes, because they are the ones who show their faces in Panama every time they compete."
"In my time there were quite a lot of scoundrels and in the present there still are. How can they rob an athlete, if they represent the country," he said.
The glory of the Panamanian sport assured that it must change the way of supporting the athletes and that it is not through the leaders, so that the funds are not diverted as it has supposedly been happening.
"We must support more, but not through a leader, because he who is a thief, will remain a thief," Durán said.
The Panamanian Institute of Sports (Pandeportes) is the center of a scandal involving alleged corruption that erupted after the publication of journalists about alleged irregularities in the allocation of resources by that entity to federations and sports associations, several of them chaired by deputies.
The scandal escalated after Parliament (AN) introduced changes to the proposal of the National Budget for 2019 aimed at exonerating the sports federations from oversight, which led the Executive to partially veto the legislative bill.
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 this was already delivered to the Public Ministry.
The "Cholo," as Durán is also called, took advantage of the moment and left a message for the athletes, but also threw a right jab to the leaders.
"Have faith, always push forward, do not shrink, I tell the leaders to support the athletes, because this starts smooth today, but in the future this will be bigger and they will have a worse problem," he said.
Blas Péres made it clear that "when an athlete protests on the street it is because he / she 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 said.
The former Tigres de Mexico striker stressed that many people approached the demonstration and there will be more if this continues.
"There are a lot of people, that shows that there is a tiredness on the part of the sports union, although I also think that there was a lack of people supporting, I believe that next time more people will join, because it is a movement to do justice to the Panamanian sportsperson", 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 voice and vote within the federations".
Perez, who recently announced his retirement, said he supports this type of movement because "the results will not be for me, I will leave, but for the youths who are growing and want to play for their country."
In the protests, athletes of different sports participated, led by the Olympic swimmer Diego Castillo, who is the representative of the athletes in the Panamanian Olympic Committee (COP).
The demonstrators gathered at the Cinta Costera promenade in the capital armed with banners with messages against the leaders and shouting slogans such as "they rob us of the podium", "say no to the re-election" of the deputies, and "corruption be gone".
They received the support of people who circulated around the place in their cars, who blew horns and greeted the protesters.