(ATR) Organisers of the Soccerex Global Convention in Rio de Janeiro have called off the event, blaming the Rio state government for withdrawing its support amid “ongoing civil unrest”.
Soccerex CEO Duncan Revie told BBC Radio 5 Live on Tuesday night that it was devastating news with just weeks to go until the Nov. 30 to Dec. 5 conference at the Maracanazinho stadium. More than 4,000 football executives were expected to attend the event.
“The decision was purely a political one and made by the secretary of sport and Rio government because of the civil unrest that has been bedeviling them,” he said.
“We had three fabulous years [of Soccerex in Rio] and something has gone amiss. It’s mindboggling they can do this with four weeks to go.”
Mention of the “ongoing civil unrest” in the official Soccerex statement raises security concerns for the month-long Brazil World Cup next summer. The FIFA Confederations Cup in June was marred by protests, some of them violent, in some of the World Cup host cities including Brasilia, Rio and Sao Paulo.
The state government of Rio strongly denied that the Soccerex Global Convention was cancelled due to security reasons.
In a statement it said the state guarantees the security for many events in Rio, including the upcoming New Year celebration, with millions of people on the Copacabana beach, as well as the Carnival and the World Cup next year.
It added: “The governor says he encouraged the organizers to seek the culture/sport incentive funding to finance the event, but the organizers failed to do so.”
But Revie categorically denied the claims of any financial disagreement between Soccerex and Rio state leaders.
“I can say that is completely and utterly false. I have evidence to refute that. I have served legal papers against the government of Rio for cancelling and being in total breach of contract,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.
In a statement, Soccerex organizers said preparations for the event at the Maracanãzinho Stadium were well advanced with content planned, speakers confirmed and partnerships in place. World Football INSIDER was a media partner for the global convention in Rio.
“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,” the statement said.
Soccerex organisers were quick to confirm that its calendar of events in 2014 was unaffected.
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.
“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,” Revie said in the statement.
“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”.
Andrew Stokes, CEO of Marketing Manchester, hosts of the Soccerex Global Convention 2014 -17 commented: “I am sorry to hear about the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the cancellation of the Soccerex Global convention in Rio. Manchester is looking forward to becoming the home of Soccerex for the next four years and I am certain that together we will build on the illustrious past that both the event and the city has enjoyed”.
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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