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.

VIDEO: Tunisia equalizes on controversial penalty kick

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England centerback Kyle Walker put his arm up to halt the forward progress of Fakhreddine Ben Youssef. Unfortunately for Walker, Ben Youssef was in the box and Walker’s elbow caught Ben Youssef’s face.

Referee Wilmar Roldan quickly whistled for a penalty kick and despite the protests from a half-dozen of England players and a check from the VAR, the called stood. Ferjani Sassi’stepped up to the spot and found the lower-left corner, just barely beating Jordan Pickford to tie the game in the 35th minute.

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How will England respond?

VIDEO: Captain Kane puts England on the board early

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It may be the easiest goal-scoring opportunity Harry Kane‘s ever had in an international competition, and he finished it as easy as you’d like.

Kane side-footed home after Tunisia goalkeeper Mouez Hassen made a terrific save on John Stone’s header off a corner, but the save was directed right into a wide-open Kane who was standing ready inside the six yard box. The 11th minute goal will surely settle some of the Three Lions’ nerves as they open their World Cup bid in Russia.

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After slow start, Belgium takes care of business against feisty Panama

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All it took was one goal to bring Belgium to life.

Following a frustrating first 45 minutes, in which Belgium put a pair of shots into the side netting and forced saves from Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, Dries Mertens 47th minute goal opened the floodgates, as Belgium went on to defeat Panama, 3-0, Monday afternoon in Sochi.

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But Panama never made it easy for the Belgians. From the opening whistle the CONCACAF nation showed its incredible spirit, chasing down Belgium all across the field and making life incredibly difficult for Belgium attackers Romelu Lukaku, Mertens and Eden Hazard. Hazard was hacked down all over the field, and while he did earn fouls and a few yellow cards were issued to Panamanian players, it was enough to get in Hazard’s head.

Two minutes into the second half, everything changed. A wonderstrike from Mertens opened the game, and forced Panama to attack and try and tie the match, which gave Hazard, de Bruyne and Lukaku more space to operate.

In the heat and humidity of the Sochi summer, Panama’s veteran defense began to tire, allowing de Bruyne the space to deliver a terrific assist to Lukaku in the box, putting Belgium up 2-0 in the 69th minute.

 

Six minutes later, Lukaku was put through on the break, chipping over Penedo to confirm the victory.

With the win, Belgium moves to the top of Group G. Up next for Belgium is Tunisia on Saturday, while Panama takes on England on Sunday.

VIDEO: de Bruyne delivers gorgeous assist on Lukaku goal

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It took a little bit of patience, but Romelu Lukaku finally got on the scoresheet at the 2018 World Cup, thanks to a delicious assist from crosstown club rival Kevin De Bruyne.

The Manchester City playmaker delivered a spectacular outside-of-the-boot cross into the box, where Lukaku’s head met it and guided it towards the far post for Belgium’s second goal of the day.

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