Poland and Ukraine's preparations
for Euro 2012 have been far from seamless, however UEFA believes
their stadiums are better than in ultra-efficient Austria and
Switzerland four years ago.
"We didn't have a stadium in Austria or Switzerland which
could compare to what we have in Gdansk or Donetsk," Martin
Kallen, UEFA's head of operations, said during the International
Football Arena conference on Tuesday.
Kallen said that the stadium in Warsaw was due to be
finished next month, while the others at Gdansk, Wroclaw and
Poznan in Poland and Kiev, Kharkiv, Lviv and Donetsk in Ukraine
were all ready.
"Lviv inaugurated last Saturday. It was the subject of our
main concern and I didn't believe the Tuesday before that it
would be ready, but they did it," he said.
Preparations for the tournament have often been sluggish and
UEFA at one point threatened to exclude Kharkiv, Lviv and
Donetsk, giving them a six-month deadline in 2010 to show they
were up to the job.
Kallen admitted that transport was not as good as it could
be and that organisers were hoping for a favourable draw.
This could include Germany playing near their border with
Poland, Russia playing near their border with Ukraine and Sweden
playing in the Baltic port of Gdansk.
"It's true that the luck of the draw in Kiev on December 2 could
help us in terms of where teams will go. In terms of transport
we will never be at the same level as in Switzerland and
Austria," he said.
However, he added the tournament would leave a legacy in
terms of infrastructure.
"In Poland, it has been a catalyst to build motorways and
most projects will be finished by the tournament. This will
change Poland because it will give people a new lifestyle."
Airports, some of which were remnants of the Soviet era, had
also been improved.
"Nobody is building airports just for the Euro. They are
looking at what they need over the next 20 years and they are
building for the future," said Kallen, adding that Gdansk had
given him "sleepless nights."
Many fans will arrive by charter flights, with up to 150
expected at airports on match days.
Kallen said there was sufficient parking space although
private jets in Ukraine could clog up airports.
Kallen said that UEFA wanted to avoid a repeat of 2008 when
co-hosts Switzerland and Austria both went out in the group
"It's important that both teams go as far as possible. In
Switzerland and Austria, there was a good atmosphere but it
wasn't the same as in Portugal [in 2004] when the hosts got to
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