RIO DE JANEIRO: The Brazilian street riots claimed their first mainstream football victim with the cancellation of the Soccerex trade and conference convention scheduled for the end of this month.
A statement from Soccerex said that the decision had been taken by the Rio state sports ministry out of security concerns and was a “political decision.” Rio officials sought to blame the organisers for failing to secure the necessary financial support.
Widespread protests about government spending priorities erupted across Brazil during the Confederations Cup last June but without affecting the staging of the tournament – though one allied conference in Belo Horizonte had to switch venues.
Soccerex, which provides a conference and commercial platform for 4,500 football senior decision makers, was scheduled for November 30 to December 5 at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro which will stage next year’s World Cup Final.
The organisers are likely to demand financial reparation from the state government for the decision which followed within hours of Alex Costa, the State Secretary for Public Order, being assaulted in a car park while giving a TV interview.
Soccerex ceo Duncan Revie said: “On behalf of all at Soccerex, I would like to apologize to every business, football club, league, federation and media organisation affected by this news.
“This unique and cruel conclusion to our time in Rio was completely out of our hands and everyone who has attended a Soccerex event over the last 18 years will know this is not how we do business. We must look forward now to 2014, to our new event calendar and the Global Convention in Manchester”.
In London FIFA marketing director Thierry Weil said that the decision was irrelevant to the hosting of the World Cup itself.
He said: “We are as surprised as anybody at this change of plans but we do not believe it will have any influence on the holding of the World Cup. It’s a pity it has been cancelled it is never good when you cancel such an event but this won’t impact on the World Cup.”
It is with great disappointment that we must confirm that the final Soccerex Global Convention in Brazil will now not be taking place. With the ongoing civil unrest, the Rio de Janeiro State Secretary of Sport took the political decision to withdraw their support from the Soccerex Global Convention.
Preparations for the event at the Maracanã Stadium were well advanced with content planned, speakers confirmed and partnerships in place.
To be summarily cancelled in such a cavalier fashion, having hosted 33 events over 5 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.
While the cancellation is an immense shock for everyone involved with Soccerex, it is important to note that the Soccerex Global Convention is contracted in Manchester for the next four years beginning in September 2014.
The Soccerex African Forum will take place in Durban in November and two other Soccerex events, one in Russia, and one in the Americas are soon to be announced.