The battle to host the 2018 World Cup has been the overriding theme at this year’s Soccerex, which is being hosted in Rio de Janeiro for the first time.
Thousands of delegates from football businesses, clubs, federations and governments from around the world have gathered in Rio’s Forte Copacabana.
With Europe scheduled to host the tournament, Carlos Alberto, Brazil’s World Cup-winning captain in 1970, pledged his support for Spain and Portugal’s joint bid.
He said: “Spain are the actual champions of the world and Portugal also have tradition.”
“(Portugal) held the European championship a few years ago (in 2004). They have conditions, beautiful stadiums, for me it should be Portugal and Spain.”
Meanwhile former Dutch international Ruud Gullit is campaigning for his nation’s joint bid with Belgium, labelling it as “compact” and “green” option.
He said: “There is not a lot of travelling for all the people. You can take one hotel, from that hotel you can go to every game around this tournament.”
This year’s Soccerex also has added interest, as it is being hosted for the first time in Brazil, host to both the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.
“I’m excited about our move to the spiritual home of football and above all the vast commercial opportunities we can open up for our international array of delegates and exhibitors,” said Soccerex chief executive Duncan Revie.
“With the Olympic Games and World Cup coming to Brazil, the country will be the focal point for the global sports industry and Soccerex will be at its very heart in Rio de Janeiro,” he added
This year’s event has featured a two-day football festival and a conference and exhibition to bring together industry executives from across the world.
Soccerex has held its past three events in South Africa in the run-up to the World Cup last summer.
President of the Brazilian football association Ricardo Teixeira said: “Brazil provides the perfect scenario for an event of Soccerex’s magnitude.”
“In the coming years, it will bring with it the most relevant football industry matters and present the world with the beauty of this wonderful sport that transcends global boundaries.”
Highlights of the event included Danny Jordaan, chief executive of the 2010 World Cup, who gave his thoughts on South Africa’s hosting of the event this summer.
Brazil’s economy has escaped the global economic downturn relatively unscathed and much of its GDP growth over the coming years will be boosted by sport infrastructure projects and sport tourism.
As well as organising its first Soccerex, Brazil hopes that the World Cup and Olympics will be a catalyst for the nation’s economy, as the sport, tourism, transport, telecoms and construction sectors all receive a boost.
According to Brazilian official figures, more than 30 million Brazilians have been lifted out of poverty in recent years.
In 2010, Brazilian GDP is expected to grow by 7.5 percent, with global infrastructure investments estimated to increase by more than 20%, reaching $67bn.