Concerns mount about 2014 World Cup, as Soccerex cancelled in Rio de Janiero

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There’s always two sides to the story, as the old saying goes… and it seems as though that’s the case here.

When reports broke on Tuesday about the world famous Soccerex conference being cancelled in Rio de Janiero due to “fear of civil unrest” many shook their head as the problems in Brazil continue.

Well, now the Rio State Government have said the cancellation was down to finances and rubbished claims by Soccerex that the marquee event — which would’ve seen 4,500 delegates involved in football administration, marketing, sponsorship and the media descend on Rio — was unsafe.

The event was meant to go ahead from November 30 until December 5 at the Maracana Stadium before the draw for the 2014 World Cup. But this latest event in a long line of civil unrest will cause great embarrassment to the city of Rio, as plenty of soccer’s most influential names (including FIFA President Sepp Blatter, England manager Roy Hodgson and many others) had agreed to attend the event at the host stadium for the 2014 showpiece final.

Soccerex had the following to say about the event’s demise.

“It is with great disappointment that we must confirm that the final Soccerex Global Convention in Brazil will now not be taking place,” Soccerex said. “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 Maracana Stadium were well advanced with content planned, speakers confirmed and partnerships in place.”

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More than one million people marched through Rio back in June, as they protested increased bus fares and lack of investment in public services.

If you remember back to June when the Confederations Cup was taking place, millions of Brazilians lined the streets in protest of a rise in bus fares and a lack of investment in public services.

Those outbursts have continued ever since and moved to different cities, with the protests becoming more violent as times passed by. That was too much of a risk of Soccerex, in their opinion, as they pulled the plug on an event which brings influential leaders in the game together ahead for the World Cup.

However, local government in Rio claim that Soccerex pulled out because they couldn’t afford the fees to put on the event in the stadiums. Although sources with inside information on the deal have told multiple news outlets that initially the Maracana was offered to Soccerex free of charge by the government by the new consortium who redeveloped the venue and now own it wanted to charge the company a large amount to host the event.

In case you were wondering what Soccerex are all about, they were established in 1995 and is the leading provider of business events for the global soccer community. They also bring together key industry decision makers from the world of soccer, providing a commercial environment where delegates can benefit from business opportunities.

The loss of this event could have massive financial implication on Brazil 2014, as soccer companies and business leaders will miss out on the chance to visit the region and develop investment opportunities for next summer’s tournament.

It seems as though the protestors are getting exactly what they wanted, more pain for Brazil’s 2014 World Cup bid.

Reports: Barcelona holding talks with Verratti’s agent

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Barcelona has their eyes set on a new Andres Iniesta.

Sure, projecting anyone to meet Ballon d’Or finalist standards is silly, but news that Barca has had multiple meetings with Paris Saint-Germain’s Marco Verratti does inspire comparison hunting.

[ MORE: Klopp explains Lovren extension ]

An influential and creative central midfielder, the 24-year-old Verratti is 8.5 years younger than Iniesta and wowed Barca in the first leg of PSG’s ill-fated UEFA Champions League tie with the Catalans.

Mundo Deportivo, amongst others, reports that Verratti feels life at PSG has gotten stale and that Barca is one of the few clubs that represents a significant jump up in class. He’s also been linked with Real Madrid and Manchester United in the past few transfer windows.

Verratti has a contract through 2020-21, so any purchase will not be cheap considering PSG’s desire to continue growing its status as a UCL contender. The Italian is 21 times capped by the Azzurri.

Klopp talks new Lovren deal, Top Four worries, Watford

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Liverpool announced a new contract for Dejan Lovren on Friday, complete with the requisite “I love my club” comments from the defender.

Then Jurgen Klopp got his hands on a microphone.

The outspoken manager explained that re-signing Lovren to a new “long-term” deal ensures that the Croatian spends the best years of his career with the Reds.

[ MORE: Top PL Storylines ]

He also spoke plainly about Lovren’s perceived struggles and successes since arriving at Anfield from Southampton in 2014.

From The Liverpool Echo:

“If Dejan played for another club you would want to sign him – and pay a lot of money. He is 27, the best time is still to come.”

“If you’d asked fans after the Dortmund game they would said give him a 20-year contract. After the Palace game fans would have said ‘can we find another team who will have him?’ Truth is somewhere in between.”

Turning to Monday’s trip to Watford, Klopp isn’t concerned about the chance that his Reds will open the day outside the Top Four if Man City and Manchester United both win at the weekend.

He also says the Reds could have Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge at Vicarge Road, though Jordan Henderson remains out.

Premier League Preview: Sunderland vs. Bournemouth

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  • Sunderland won 2-1 on Nov. 5
  • Fourth meeting since 1990
  • Sunderland leads all-time 5W-3D-1L

Sunderland looks to keep its faint hopes of Premier League safety alive by managing a season sweep of Bournemouth when the two sides meet at the Stadium of Light on Saturday (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com).

The Black Cats are a mess, having lost to Tees-Wear Derby rivals Middlesbrough on Wednesday and living 12 points back of 17th place Swansea City.

Bournemouth battered Middlesbrough 4-0 last weekend to move seven points clear of the drop zone, and can finish the day in the top half with a win up north.

What they’re saying

Sunderland boss David Moyes on calls for him to quit“I’m here, I’m the manager, you take it on the chin. … I’m a football supporter, I know what it’s like. You don’t like seeing your team lose. There is nobody who wants to win more than me. I am used to winning, I’m not used to losing and I don’t want to get used to it either.”

Bournemouth captain Simon Francis on Sunderland’s woes“It just show how things can happen when clubs are not run properly. If we do lose Sunderland from the Premier League it will be a real shame. They are an enormous club and playing at grounds like theirs is the pinnacle of anyone’s career.”

 

Prediction

The Black Cats haven’t quit, but manage two fewer points than they need, all but heading for the Championship after a 2-2 draw.

Premier League Preview: Southampton vs. Hull City

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  • Hull won 2-1 on Nov. 6
  • Tigers two points clear of drop zone
  • Saints lead all-time 23W-20D-15L

After back-to-back losses to Man City and Chelsea, Saints meet a different kind of desperation when Hull City arrives at St. Mary’s (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

With a win, Hull can move five points clear of the final relegation spot and heap pressure on Swansea City, who plays Sunday. With a loss, Marco Silva’s men open the 17th place door for Swans.

[ MORE: JPW on Romeu the Destroyer ]

Since the start of the 2011-12 season in the Championship, Southampton has won six of seven matches against Hull. That seventh, however, was the match at the KCOM Stadium earlier this season, one that saw now-West Ham man Robert Snodgrass spur a Tigers comeback.

Saints open the day four points back of eighth place West Brom, and also hold a match-in-hand on the Baggies.

What they’re saying

Saints boss Claude Puel on slump busting“After two losses it’s important to move forward now and take points on Saturday in front of our own fans. We have to improve in the right areas and find a good balance of play, but also a good clinical edge in both penalty areas.”

Marco Silva on Hull’s away troubles““We have conceded goals on the counter-attack away from home in games when the result has been looking good for us – we cannot make it possible for our opponents to do this to us. The second goal we conceded at Stoke is an example of this – conceded at a time when we were in control of the game. Details like this are making the difference and these are things we must look to change. This is clear to me and I pass this on to my players.”

Prediction

Saints have more quality than Hull, but may not have as much fire in the belly. Still, home field means a lot here and Southampton should reverse the score line from November’s tilt. 2-1, with Manolo Gabbiadini and Dusan Tadic leading the way.