PANAMA CITY : The trophy tour for the 2018 World Cup made its way to Panama, where President Juan Carlos Varela received the iconic prize from former French football star David Trezeguet at the Panama Pacifico International Airport.
The Boeing 737-300 that is transporting the FIFA World Cup Trophy landed here on Friday, reports Efe.
Trezeguet, an ambassador for the 18-karat, 6.1-kilogram solid gold trophy's global journey, was the last to stop of the plane.
He thanked Varela for receiving the delegation in his country and encouraged Panamanians, who this summer will watch their team compete in a World Cup for the first time, to enjoy football's premier tournament.
"Soon you'll be able to enjoy this World Cup moment. Enjoy and go Panama!" Trezeguet said.
Roberto Mercade, the president of Coca Cola's Latin American Center business unit, said it was the second time that the World Cup trophy had arrived in Panama but that this occasion was special because the country would be making its inaugural appearance in the tournament this summer in Russia.
Panama was drawn in Group G along with England, Belgium and Tunisia.
Panama is one of the last stops on a 51-nation World Cup Trophy Tour that began at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium, which will host several games of this year's tournament, including the final.
Varela, who declared a national holiday when the national team qualified for the tournament last October, said for his part that he was "honoured to receive the Cup on behalf of all Panamanians."
"Panama loves and supports sports in general, but soccer is what they love the most," he said.
The trophy tour will travel next to Costa Rica this weekend and then make stops in Mexico, the United States, Germany, Mongolia, China and Japan before arriving in Vladivostok, Russia, on May 1.