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Organisers of the annual conference had earlier claimed Rio State Secretary for Sport Andre Lazaroni had taken a "political decision" to withdraw his support for the event

By Liam Twomey

The Rio de Janeiro State Government has angrily denied claims by the organisers of the Soccerex Global Convention that the upcoming event in the city was cancelled due to civil unrest.

In a statement released earlier on Tuesday, Soccerex organisers claimed Rio State Secretary of Sport Andre Lazaroni had taken a "political decision" to withdraw his support for the event.

The cancellation of the annual conference, which attracts key figures from the world of football, had raised further fears over the possibility of disorder and violence during next summer's World Cup.

But in a statement released in response to the accusations, the Rio State Government dismissed the Soccerex organisers' version of events, instead claiming the cancellation was the result of a funding issue.

"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, the World Cup next year," the statement read. "The Rio de Janeiro State Government encouraged the Soccerex organisers to seek culture or sport incentive funding to finance the event, but the organisers failed to do so."

The convention had been scheduled to take place in Rio's iconic Maracana Stadium from November 30 to December 5, immediately prior to the final World Cup draw on December 6.

In their strongly worded statement, the Soccerex organisers expressed their disappointment at the cancellation and revealed they have notified the Rio State Government of their intention "to instigate legal proceedings for substantial compensation".

Speaking at an event to publicise the preparations for next summer's World Cup, Fifa marketing director Thierry Weil insisted the Soccerex cancellation will have no bearing on the hosting of next summer's showpiece.

"We are as surprised as anybody at this change of plans but we do not believe it will have any influence on the holding of the World Cup," he told reporters.

"It's a pity it has been cancelled it is never good when you cancel such an event but this won't impact on the World Cup."

Last summer's Confederations Cup was marred by widespread public protests at the cost of the World Cup and social inequality in Brazil, and featured numerous clashes between protesters and state authorities.

Also speaking at the event, 2002 World Cup winner and official 2014 ambassador Ronaldo insists the unrest is a positive thing, providing protests are conducted in a peaceful fashion.

"Brazil is experiencing something really special right now," he added. "It's a moment of change. People are tired. they want changes in the country, in different sectors. People are tired of being mistreated.

"They want a new type of treatment. That applies to health, security, education. People are going out onto the streets to show their displeasure at how they were treated for so long. They want change.

"The cancelling of soccerex because of the protests, that is exaggerating. Brazil is a civilised country. It's a country that is known world wide for being very hospitable to its tourists, they always come back.

"Soccerex has lost an opportunity to host a marvellous event in a fantastic city. I am sure there won't be any problems [next summer] because the last survey showed that the Brazil population is in favour of the World Cup.

"The Brazil population sees the World Cup as an opportunity for there to be investment in Brazil, so any protests without violence, we have to hear and learn from all them.

"But those with violence, we won't tolerate them or accept them. Security has to come first and foremost, but I don't believe there will be any type of protest during the World Cup."

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