KIEV - One year to the day before Euro
2012 kicks off, co-hosts Poland and Ukraine are still facing
huge challenges but European football's governing body UEFA has no
real concerns about the tournament's viability.
UEFA's secretary general Gianni Infantino said the problems
facing the first eastern European countries to host a football
event of such a size were "just typical" and would not impact on
the tournament, while UEFA's Euro 2012 director Martin Kallen
added that although he wished that preparations were further
advanced, there were no real problems.
Adding a dash of glitz and sheen to the claims, UEFA
"employed" Aleksandre Yaroslavskyy, the billionaire owner of
Ukraine's top flight Metalist Kharkiv club - personal worth
estimated at around $3.5 billion - to meet international
journalists on an organised tour of all eight venue cities in
He was happy to show them around his club and city and leave
them in no doubt that Ukraine has a "can-do" attitude to the
The charismatic Yaroslavskyy took the microphone on the tour
bus, and after sharing his lunchtime strawberries with the
press, said that Euro 2012 was Ukraine's chance to "show the
world what we can do."
Yaroslavskyy has invested $265 million of his own money into
the local infrastructure, including $100 million for the new
"We have made great progress... and working on Euro 2012 I
haven't had one minute of rest in four years," he added.
Kharkiv, just 40 miles from the Russian border, is
one of the four Ukraine host cities along with Donetsk, Lviv and
the capital Kiev and, while its stadium is finished as is the
hugely impressive Donbass Arena in Donetsk, there is still work
to be done in Lviv and Kiev where the stadiums are around
Kallen told reporters: "I wish they were a bit further
advanced, but we can live with it at the moment. Poland and
Ukraine are ahead of Portugal 2004 at the same stage but behind
Austria and Switzerland 2008 - I'd say they were around seven out
of 10, they are a bit behind what they promised, but they are
making great progress, you can see the changes month by month."
The stadium in Lviv, a stunning city close to the Polish
border with more than 90 UNESCO heritage listed buildings, has
struggled with its stadium since the tournament was awarded to
the two countries in 2007, and there is some doubt that a
planned friendly against Austria in November might be postponed,
or moved away.
There are also problems, generally with a lack of hotel
rooms and some projects not being completed like a planned rail
link between Kiev airport and the city centre, but generally,
UEFA is happy.
"I admit the Lviv stadium is a challenge," said Kallen. "It
may be the Austria game has to be switched to somewhere else but
the stadium will definitely be ready by the finals, I would say
certainly by the New Year at the latest."
Kallen was speaking on the day a report in Poland, issued by
the Supreme Audit Office said that delays in updating Poland's
transport infrastructure threaten its ability to successfully
host the tournament.
The country's top audit agency said: "Euro 2012 preparations
have visibly advanced. But the scale of delays, abandoned
projects and poorly implemented investments is so significant
that it may threaten the smooth running of the tournament."
If he was bothered by the report from Warsaw, UEFA's
Infantino was not showing it.
"There is one issue common to all these events, which is
that if you look at all the work that has been done in a very
short period of time, in order to make it happen, it is clear
you will have criticism because there are issues that have to be
dealt with," he said.
"Work that would normally take 20 years to complete, has
taken four years, so there are some problems. But basically as
long as the problems do not impact on the competition, the
problems which may arise will not cause us too much bother."
Ukraine's Euro 2012 minister Borys Kolesnikov told Reuters
he had every confidence in Ukraine's ability to stage the event.
"A country with a planned post-Soviet economy and
corresponding infrastructure will always arouse a lack of
confidence. But in the past year we have achieved significant
progress in preparations for the Championship and I think that
this lack of confidence has gone now."
And he echoed Infantino's views when he said: "We have come
through a very significant period particularly in terms of
infrastructure - we leapt across a huge gap."
Pardew to report to returning ex-manager
Sub scores to make it three World Cups in a row
Three-year jail sentence a possibility
Principality project faces legal wrangles over exceptional circumstances
Who would you rather have playing for your club?
12 months out, the stars look to the World Cup
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
75% of all TV is Bale
On the road to ruin
Adidas Nitrocharge for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010