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.

French league terminates goal-line technology contract

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PARIS (AP) The French football league has terminated the contract with its goal-line technology provider after a series of glitches.

The LFP had already suspended the use of GoalControl, the German system that was deployed at the 2014 World Cup.

According to L’Equipe newspaper, the league will launch a tender in February to find a new provider of the technology that determines whether the ball crossed the line.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

In recent months, the French league had repeatedly expressed its discontent with GoalControl.

Goal-line technology entered soccer after a goal was wrongly disallowed at the 2010 World Cup.

FIFA is already focused on fast-tracking the next phase of technology – video assistant referees – for the World Cup in June.

Goal-line technology and VAR were provided by Hawk-Eye at the Confederations Cup last year.

Bristol City’s Johnson: “They certainly have heard of us now”

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The Premier League world may see Bristol City next season, but it seems its manager has the personality to arrive on the top flight whether or not his Robins earn promotion this season.

Johnson, 36, earned plenty of plaudits after leading his Championship club to the League Cup semifinals, famously defeated Manchester United in the quarters.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Before that, Bristol beat Premier League sides Crystal Palace, Stoke City, and Watford. The Robins beat third tier Plymouth Argyle 5-0 in the first round.

Johnson was beaming after the Robins took Man City to the edge, closing to within a goal of extra time before Kevin De Bruyne‘s stoppage time number ended the tie 5-3 on aggregate.

“Absolutely I’m proud. It’s not just tonight but over the course of the season, particularly the cup run. It was a fantastic occasion, I’m sorry we couldn’t get the win but we played against the best side that I have ever seen live. They have so many good individuals.

“We kept going and it’s taken two injury-time goals to beat us. They certainly have [heard of us] now…everybody knows what we’re about. It’s been great.”

Bristol City is in the Championship’s fifth place, bidding for its first top flight campaign since 1980. Johnson should be a hot prospect to earn a shot in the Premier League should the Robins not make the jump.

League Cup semifinal preview: Arsenal vs. Chelsea

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  • Chelsea has won 4-of-7 League Cup matches vs. Arsenal
  • Arsenal leads all-time series 74W-58D-62L
  • Clubs have drawn four times this season

Hardware hopes are on the line when Chelsea hits the Emirates Stadium for a League Cup semifinal second leg with Arsenal on Wednesday.

The sides drew 0-0 at Stamford Bridge, giving Chelsea the advantage of knowing a scoring draw would do the trick and set up a date with Manchester City at Wembley on Feb. 25, though Arsenal has home field advantage in pursuit of a win.

[ MORE: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

Henrikh Mkhitaryan may debut for Arsenal, though the club released an interesting note on Tuesday: He’ll wear No. 7 in most competitions, but will have to use a different number in the Europa League because Alexis Sanchez wore it to start the tournament.

Chelsea’s Antonio Conte won’t have Alvaro Morata (back) and Cesc Fabregas for the match, though Andreas Christensen will be available for selection.

The clubs are no strangers to each other in big non-PL spots, squaring off in this season’s Community Shield (Arsenal won in penalty kicks) and last season’s FA Cup Final (Arsenal won).

Nothing has separated the sides on the field aside from those penalty kicks at Wembley Stadium, as Arsenal and Chelsea have drawn 1-1, 0-0, 2-2, and 0-0 since August.

What they’re saying

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger on Henrikh Mkhitaryan“He can play in different positions, but personally I see him first in a wide position, but I’m thinking about him a possibility to play through the middle. You are certain in our job of nothing, that’s absolutely sure. But you believe and I believe he has the qualities to do well, is a team player and our game is based on team attitude and movement and I think he can absorb the quantity of movement in our team.”

Chelsea’s Conte on the lineup: “Every game is different, you change the quality of your opponent and you must be intelligent enough to understand if you should continue with the same players or make some changes.”

Javier Mascherano leaving Barcelona after 8 seasons

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says defender Javier Mascherano is leaving the club after eight seasons.

Barcelona says there will be a farewell ceremony on Wednesday with Mascherano, club president Josep Bartomeu and the rest of the squad.

[ MORE: Man City to buy $86m CB ]

The 33-year-old Argentina international will say goodbye to the fans before Thursday’s game against Espanyol at Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey. He is reportedly going to play in China.

Mascherano, who also played as a defensive midfielder, arrived in Barcelona in 2010 from Liverpool and helped the Catalan club win 18 titles. He has made 334 appearances with Barcelona, but recently hadn’t been playing much.

The club earlier this month signed Colombia international Yerry Mina to boost its defense.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga