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Published:February 11th, 2008 05:48 EST
Soccer losers or almost the ones?

Soccer losers or almost the ones?

By Ann Poludenko

The biggest in Europe soccer championship, Euro-2012, may change host countries. Ukraine and Poland have received an official warning from UEFA (United European Football Association.) They have half a year from now to prove their ability to hold the championship.

“I think that the next 4-6 months will be the most important for avoiding critical mistakes with the realization of  projects of sport and social infrastructure development in Ukraine and Poland,” said Michael Platini, the president of UEFA.

Too little preparation achievements. This is all the UEFA  inspection saw when checking how Poland and Ukraine implement Euro-2012 projects on renewal sport infrastructure. This caused many questions whether both countries will be able to hold the championship on a high level. Scotland reacted fast on these doubts. It said about its readiness to apply Euro-2012 hosting.

Although both in Ukraine and Poland are sure all that means nothing and they still are the only host countries. “We don’t panic at all, but have a strong will. There is nothing like that [changing host countries – SOP] in UEFA’s warning,’ said Evgen Chervonenko, the head of Ukrainian agency of hosting EURO-2012.

It is still impossible to see with your own eyes what has been done on championship preparation in Ukraine-- debates, meetings, conferences, local conflicts . UEFA inspectors saw great results only on paper. “It’s a pity that we have everything OK only on paper. That’s why we must necessarily improve our system  of controlling the decrees implementations,” said Grugorij Syrkis, the president of Football Federation of Ukraine.

According to the plan, the championship is supposed to take place in 4 cities of Ukraine: Kyiv, Lviv, Dnipropetrovsk andDonetsk. Twenty-six million dollars must be spend on cities reconstruction. Only in Kyiv, which is supposed to be the best prepared city, new stadium must be built and 3 sport complexes need reconstruction.   The government has to take care of roads that lead from the airports to the stadiums and city centers. Plus, there must be public transportation system improvement. The cities also need new ambulances and 34 hotels which will cost $1.5 million. Out of that all, for now there were just chosen the winners of some investment contests. As well, there were created 8 committees and coordination groups for controlling the whole preparation. This has only complicated the situation so that now it is almost impossible to find out who is responsible of what.

“I think that journalists exaggerate everything as usually. Everything with the preparation goes OK in Poland,” says Pavel Gemsky, the economical adviser of the embassy of Poland in Ukraine. Although he admits that there were some problems with land admeasurements for the new stadium in Warsaw.  The one responsible for the championship organization in Poland is the Ministry of Sport. It plans to spend more then $20 million for the whole.

On April 2007 the president of UEFA, Michael Platini, has announced results of the voting for hosting the championship. Ukraine and Poland competed with Italy and Hungary with Croatia. The Poland/Ukraine bid received an absolute majority of 8 votes and was announced the winner. 

The Polish-Ukrainian hosting was seen as a way of shifting the focus towards regions and nations of central and eastern Europe. They present themselves as countries whose population demonstrates a strong feeling for football, but were less developed in terms of the quality of the local leagues and football infrastructure, when compared with western Europe.