By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Soccerex, the soccer (football) convention scheduled to be hosted at the Maracanã prior to the World Cup draw, has been canceled by the Rio de Janeiro state government over concerns of “civic unrest.” The move was taken on Tuesday evening with Soccerex now threatening to sue the Rio government over the “unique and cruel” last minute decision.
“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,” a Soccerex statement read.
The Rio state government, however, denied that the convention had been canceled due to concerns over safety. Government officials said that funding was withdrawn due to disagreements over the funding of the event.
Close to 5,000 were due to attend one of the world’s largest soccer conventions at the renovated Maracanã, stage for the 2014 World Cup final. Many planned to attend the Soccerex event before making the trip to Salvador for the World Cup group stage draw on December 6th.
The Maracanã was refurbished at a public cost of R$1.2 billion but has since switched to private ownership. A consortium known as Maracanã S.A. hold a 35-year lease of the stadium, meaning the city was unable to make a guarantee about the availability of the stadium without the consortium’s consent.
The event has been held in Rio de Janeiro previously without much incident. FIFA marketing direcotry Thierry Weil said the cancelation of Soccerex “won’t impact the World Cup.”
Read more (in Portuguese).
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