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Euro 2012 in Ukraine and Poland
The 2012 UEFA European Football Championship, commonly referred to as Euro 2012, will be the 14th European Championship for national football teams sanctioned by UEFA. Poland and Ukraine will be the host nations of the final tournament, scheduled for the summer of 2012, following the election of their joint-bid by UEFA’s Executive Committee, on April 18, 2007, in Cardiff, Wales. This bid defeated the other shortlisted bids from Italy and Croatia/ Hungary, becoming the third successful joint-bid for the European Championship, after those of Belgium/Netherlands, for Euro 2000, and Austria/Switzerland for Euro 2008.
On April 18, at about 1 p.m. (Kyiv time), Michel Platini, UEFA president, slowly pulled a sheet of paper out of the envelope, and read — “Ukraine and Poland!” The members of the Ukrainian and Polish delegations started jumping and embracing each other and shouting for joy — they could not control their emotions!
Ukraine and Poland have never hosted soccer events on such a scale.
The selected venues for the final round in Poland are Gdansk, Poznan, Warsaw, Wroclaw and Chorzow, while Ukraine has proposed stadiums in Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Kyiv and Lviv.
Ukrainian president’s press service said Viktor Yushchenko was delighted with the decision made by the Union of European Football Associations and added that Ukraine and Poland would be able to host this important sports event at a high level.
“President Yushchenko is confident that Euro 2012 will be a wonderful opportunity for Ukrainians and Poles to welcome the best representatives of the European soccer family and to present international fans with an unforgettable sports event,” the press service said. “Thanks to UEFA, Ukraine and Poland will show millions of fans the beauty and uniqueness of their cities, which have preserved their historic attractiveness, and will confirm Slavic hospitality and high culture.”
Now, several months later, stark realities have to be considered rather than emotions.
The biggest stadium of Ukraine, Olympiysky, is probably the biggest headache. There are doubts it will be able to host the Euro 2012 games. A number of FIFA and UEFA experts who inspected the stadium said that the stadium was not fit to be a venue of Euro 2012 games. The construction work that is going on around it is the main problem.
Said Michel Platini, “This stadium does not have enough seats and the space around it restricts free movement of people and transport, and thus cannot be used for Euro 2012 games.”
It is not clear how this problem is going to be solved, and it must be solved, if the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship is to come to Ukraine.
At the same time, a lot has been planned and is already being done to meet the requirements of an event of such a magnitude.
President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko issued a decree (#802/2007) on August 31 which deals directly with issues connected with hosting the European soccer championship — cooperation with the UEFA and the Polish Football Association must be expanded, and necessary steps to have everything ready by the year 2012 must be taken. The decree, in part, instructs the Cabinet of Ministers and the Kyiv State Administration to take measures to remove all the structures that clutter Troyitska Ploshcha (Square) in front of the National Sports Complex Olympiysky.
A new big park is planned to be laid out in Kyiv and a youth center is to be built in this park. The center will be able to accommodate up to 15,000 tourists, and this will help solve the accommodation problem which may be caused by the influx of tourists and soccer fans, and by shortage of hotels.
According to Yury Blotsky, head of a department at the Kyiv State Administration, this center will be built on Trukhaniv Island; it will have cottages, eateries, sports grounds, information and entertainment facilities. “We shall avail ourselves of the experience in the hosting business that such countries as France and German have accumulated. The work has not been yet begun but we have enough logistical and financial support to have all the work completed by the year 2010, to meet the UEFA requirements.” A number of architectural landmarks will be restored; three fountains which were destroyed in wars and housing development programs will be rebuilt at the places where they once used to be located. One of such fountains is to be built on Evropeyska Ploshcha (Square), the other on Ploshcha Lva Tolstoho (Leo Tolstoy Square), and the third one on Sofiyivska Ploshcha.
The Polish-Ukrainian hosting of a European soccer championship is seen as a way of shifting the focus towards regions and nations of central and eastern Europe, whose population demonstrates a strong feeling for football, but are less developed in terms of the quality of the local leagues and football infrastructure, when compared with western Europe. The host cities are popular tourist destinations; however it is unclear at the moment if they have sufficient experience in accommodating large numbers of visitors for extended stays, and the existing transportation infrastructure within and between both countries may be in need of a considerable improvement to be adequate to allow a rapid flow of people between the venues. In order to improve this situation, it is planned to expand and modernize roads and highways.
Photos have been provided
by the Federation of Football of Ukraine
Viktor Yushchenko and Lech Kaczynski
Hryhory Surkis, president of the Federation