Platini heads to Ukraine and Poland
with worries about Euro 2012 hosts
The European Championship may be over but Michel Platini`s work is not. The UEFA president tomorrow begins a two-day inspection tour of Poland and Ukraine, the joint-hosts for Euro 2012, which is expected to conclude in a final warning for Ukraine in particular, according to Belfast Telegraph.
On Saturday he said that a final decision on whether Poland and Ukraine will host the tournament will be made in September.
The decision to award the finals to the former Soviet Bloc countries was a bold and surprising one, driven by a combination of realpolitik and evangelism. The gamble is in danger of backfiring. Both countries have a huge amount of work to do on upgrading their infrastructure but progress has been slow.
In Ukraine the issue has become a political football with various factions using the situation to push their cause. There is plenty to blame to apportion. Only last week Ukraine`s sports ministry announced it was looking for a new contractor to renovate Kiev`s Olympic Stadium, which is scheduled to host the final, after a long dispute with the original Taiwanese builders. Four of the eight proposed venues need new stadia while the other four need significant refurbishment.
The sheer scale of the proposed competition is a problem. The 1,200-mile journey from Gdansk, one venue, to Donetsk, another, takes 43 hours by train, 22 hours plus border delays, by road – only 16 miles of which are on motorways. There are no direct flights. Warsaw is the only Polish city with direct flights to Ukraine, and there are none to Donetsk.
Earlier this year, Igor Miroshnychenko, of the Ukrainian FA, admitted: "It`s not a good situation here. We have no main stadium and there are problems with the roads. Can we host it? I really don`t know." If the September deadline is not met, then Uefa will begin talking to possible replacements.
Spain, which has excellent stadia and a working infrastructure, missed out in 2004 and are favourites. The country last hosted in 1964. Italy, who lost in the bidding process, are another contender.
The Scottish and Irish will pitch a reprise of their joint bid which is unlikely to succeed, and there is a possibility, if Poland show that they are making progress, that they could combine with Germany for a joint bid.