En ocasión de la final del Mundial de Rusia 2018, el Embajador Gustavo Martínez Pandiani ofreció en las instalaciones de la Embajada un desayuno informal con autoridades deportivas nacionales y regionales y comunidad futbolística local,. Asistieron al encuentro el Ministro de Cultura, Deportes y Juventud, John King, y su Jefe de Desarrollo Deportivo, Stephen Rowe; el Director Técnico de la Selección local, Ahmed Mohamed; su par de la Selección sub 17, Renaldo Gilkes; el Director de la Academia de Deportes de la University of the West Indies, Roland Butcher; El Director Ejecutivo de la Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Ronald Jackson; el Cónsul Honorario de Francia en Barbados, Don Chee-A-Tow; los capitanes de los Seleccionados de fútbol masculino y femenino de Barbados; así como también altas autoridades de la Barbados Football Association y miembros de la prensa.
Aprovechando el entusiasta clima mundialista que se vivió en Bridgetown, esta Embajada organizó el evento en el que se proyectó en pantalla gigante el partido Francia - Croacia, como gesto de acercamiento entre ambos pueblos. La iniciativa tuvo una enorme respuesta y la sede de la Embajada se llenó de simpatizantes barbadenses.
El encuentro tuvo una gran repercusión en la prensa de Barbados. El diario de mayor tirada de la isla, The Barbados Advocate, públicó nota de tapa titulada "Eyes on the Prize", en la que se recogen declaraciones del Embajador Martínez Pandiani. Se transcriben a continuación principales fragmentos:
"The FIFA World Cup may have just ended, but already the Ambassador of the Argentine Republic to Barbados, His Excellency Gustavo Martinez Pandiani, is looking ahead to the 2026 World Cup. After a Watch Party at the Argentina Embassy yesterday, he said he believes Barbados has a great opportunity to qualify for the pinnacle of football as there will be extra places open as a result of it being held in the CONCACAF region".
"Pandiani said the target group should be the Under-17 squad, which he hopes to take to Argentina to train and get ready for the qualifications, and hopefully the 2026 World Cup Final.
'Barbados could have a real opportunity to make the World Cup... So we want to help Barbados through the Argentine football Association,' he said, adding that he hopes next year they can send the Under-17 squad".
"He said he has been working with the Barbados Football Association (BFA) with its President Randy Harris and the coaches of the BFA. Pandiani mentioned he had seen every game Barbados has played here and the best team is the Under-17, so he wishes to do everything from ground up to help Barbados prepare for the test".
"The final for Barbados’ domestic season this year will have a celebrity game and cultural performance by Argentina and the Ambassador hopes it will strengthen the friendship and partnership".
Por otra parte, el diario The Nation, destacó la presencia en el desayuno de la Embajada del Ministro de Cultura, Deporte y Juventud, John King, e incluyó una reseña del encuentro con fotos alusivas bajo el título "King´s football goal". A continuación se transcriben principales fragmentos del artículo, que incluye declaraciones del Ministro King resaltando la relevancia del intercambio futbolístico como herramienta de fortalecimiento de la relación bilateral:
"Minister of Sports John King is calling for a restructuring of the local football fraternity.
He made the suggestion during a World Cup watch party hosted by Argentine Ambassador Gustavo Martinez Pandiani at the Argentine Embassy, Hastings, Christ Church yesterday.
'I think the major thing right now is to restructure football altogether. We’ve got to look at the age we get people involved in sports, especially football. We’ve got an Under-17 team that are really doing well right now, and I think the focus should really be in making sure that in 2026 when the World Cup is here that that Under-17 team is given the best opportunity to form our national team at that point in time, and represent us at the World Cup,' he explained".
"Mexico, Canada and the United States are hosts of the 2026 World Cup, having won the united bid last month after securing 134 votes at the 68th FIFA Congress at Krasnoproletarskaya, Moscow, Russia, beating Morocco. With the joint bid, it means three spaces have been opened, which allows for Caribbean countries such as Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Barbados to qualify for the 23rd FIFA World Cup. Additionally, the World Cup has been extended to include 48 teams; up from 32. 'That means there is room, so I think our first order of business should be to prepare ourselves to take one of those spaces,' King said".
"The minister added it was events such as these that bolstered relationships like the one shared with Argentina. 'For us to be able to sit here in the Argentine Embassy and watch a football match, that speaks a lot about the 50 years of friendship that the two countries have had. The atmosphere is fantastic, and I enjoyed the game,' he said".
"Meanwhile, Pandiani said both Governments were working on signing an agreement on the co-operation of sports. 'The minister is here and we’re working with John on a very important project, which is basically taking the Under-17 national team to Argentina to train and to have an educational and motivational trip. I had a meeting with Minister King, and his sport division. Now we’re just waiting on the formalities . . . . With this agreement we’re going to put this project together,' he explained, adding the idea was to get the team ready for the 2026 World Cup".
"He added the embassy was prepared to help the Under-17 national team in any way they could. 'Next year, we’re going to send the Under-17 team [to Argentina]. We’re working with Ahmed [Mohamed] and Randy Harris in order to prepare a good trip for them . . . . In eight years they’re gonna be the prime age to play the World Cup. And I have to tell you I have seen every game here, and the best team you have is your Under-17 team,' he declared".
"While noting the watch party was only an excuse to meet with friends, he hinted about a celebrity match to be played on August 1 at the Barbados Football Association’s Stag Champions Cup final, which would see local celebrities engaged in a football battle and include a cultural Argentine show equipped with tango dancers".