Selasa, 27 September 2011

Platini soothes growing pains of Ukraine

Michel Platini has said he is at last confident Ukraine can host Euro 2012.

After several 'last chance' warnings over the past three years, the UEFA boss can tear a few fewer hairs out now the four stadia do seem to be on track for next summer.

"A year ago, we were deciding whether to leave four or two cities," Platini told reporters on a tour of Kharkiv. "And today we have four cities."

"There are no serious problems in preparing for Euro 2012," he continued, "but there are many minor tasks and problems that need to be solved."

For Platini, a successful Euro 2012 is crucial to his reputation as an organiser of big soccer tournaments as he continues his silent campaign for the FIFA Presidency at some point in the future.

The Frenchman has found the two hosts' lack of infrastructure and slow construction progress compared to western European nations an ongoing headache, and has constantly had to threaten them with being stripped of hosting rights. Spain was the first nation touted as a replacement back in 2008, when World Soccer's Keir Radnedge boldly announced neither Poland nor Ukraine would host Euro 2012.

Then Germany entered the picture, either as sole host or as joint organiser with Poland. Now it is clear UEFA is not turning back and is throwing its cards on the table with the two unknown East European hosts. By rights the tournament should have been Italy's, but the calciopoli scandal and an upsurge in high-profile hooliganism let the duo in through the back door.

It promises to be a unique European Championship, a foretaste perhaps of the 2018 World Cup in neighbouring Russia.

The cheap transport promised to fans facing extraordinarily long journeys between venues (Gdansk to Donetsk is 933 miles/1502km) yet to materialise.

Next month Platini visits Poland to inspect their venues, with the opening date of Warsaw's new arena still up in the air.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

UEFA EURO 2012 8th June -1st July 2012

VENUES

Poland
Warsaw 58,224 (opening game and semi-final)
Gdansk 44,636
Poznan 43,090
Wroclaw 44,416

Ukraine
Kiev 63,195 (semi-final and final)
Donetsk 50,055
Kharkiv 35,721
Lviv 34, 915

Qualifiers
Poland, Ukraine, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Italy and ten others to be decided.

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