Soccerex: Fears for Brazil World Cup 2014 as conference axed

Burning bus in a favela A number of protests in Brazil have turned violent this year

Fears about disruption to next year's World Cup have been raised after the key global football conference Soccerex was cancelled for disputed reasons.

Soccerex organisers said Rio de Janeiro's state government had called off next month's event due to concerns about "ongoing civil unrest" in Brazil.

However the government "strongly denied" that this was the reason, instead citing a funding dispute.

The Soccerex gathering was due to be held at Rio's Maracana stadium.

The England manager, Roy Hodgson, was among a number of high-profile figures who were planning to attend the event.

Start Quote

I would like to apologise to every business, football club, league, federation and media organisation affected by this news”

End Quote Duncan Revie Soccerex chief executive

Rio's state government said Soccerex, run by a British company, had failed to raise sufficient private funds to cover the cost of the three-day conference, and that it was not prepared to put forward any public money to fill the gap.

"The state guarantees the security of multiple events, including New Year's Eve on Copacabana beach, carnival, and the World Cup," it said in a statement.

"The government of Rio de Janeiro encouraged the organisers to seek cultural and sports incentives [funding] and they failed to do so. Soccerex were advised to seek funding to host the event so that the state would not have to use public money."

'Apology'

The event would have been the last of four scheduled Soccerex conventions to be held in Rio.

The organisers said they would be taking legal action against the Rio authorities responsible.

"Preparations for the event at the Maracana Stadium were well advanced with content planned, speakers confirmed and partnerships in place," a statement said.

"To be summarily cancelled in such a cavalier fashion, having hosted 33 events over five continents is extremely frustrating but nevertheless it has happened and is in contravention of all of the contractual obligations of the Rio state government, who have been notified of our intention to instigate legal proceedings for substantial compensation."

Soccerex chief executive Duncan Revie called the cancellation "cruel" and said he wanted to apologise to "every business, football club, league, federation and media organisation affected by this news".

Despite the sudden cancellation, world football governing body Fifa said it did not suggest heightened security fears for the World Cup.

Fifa's marketing director, Thierry Weil, said: "We do not believe this will have any influence in any way or form on the organisation of the Fifa World Cup."

Security issues

Brazil, one of the fast-growing Brics nations, has seen its growth rate fall far from the 7.5% recorded in 2010 and is now growing at just short of 3% a year.

That, and a sharp fall in the value of its currency, the real, has sparked a number of often violent anti-government protests this year.

Among the protesters' concerns are corruption in public life as well as spending on hosting the World Cup and Olympics.

People are also asking for more investment in public services, better public schools, hospitals and transportation.

These demonstrations affected the Confederations Cup in June, prompting fears about safety and security for next summer's World Cup finals.

Soccerex has been running for the last 18 years.

It brings together football federations and associations, major clubs, rights holders, leading brands, businessmen and others in the industry.

Next year it moves to Manchester in the UK, which has been the host of Soccerex Europe since 2010.

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