Ukraine leader seeks solution on Euro stadium
Kyiv may be disqualified from hosting the final of Euro-2012
Ukraine`s president says he is pressing Kiev authorities to solve a row over a building site which threatens to disqualify the city`s main stadium from hosting the final of the 2012 European soccer championship, according to Reuters.
Viktor Yushchenko was speaking after UEFA president Michel Platini said Kiev`s 84,000-seat Olympic stadium could not be used for Euro 2012, to be held jointly with Poland, unless construction of a nearby shopping centre was halted.
"I issued new instructions three days ago for Kiev city authorities to take appropriate decisions on this matter in conjunction with the owners of the site," Yushchenko told Reuters in an interview late on Tuesday in central Ukraine.
"I met the owner and he said he was prepared to take a wrecker`s ball and demolish the site if (international soccer officials) confirm that this is a vital condition for the stadium to function."
The site owner was also prepared, he said, to amend building plans "including norms on the ground level concerning proper evacuation (of fans)" -- UEFA`s chief concern.
International soccer authorities have long warned that unless the construction is stopped they will withdraw permission to hold matches at the stadium.
Ukraine`s Interior Ministry this month, citing crowd control concerns, limited ticket sales to 41,000 at Ukraine`s European 2008 qualifying match against Italy.
In a letter last week to the head of Ukraine`s soccer federation, Platini said blockage of exits and space limitations meant the stadium "clearly cannot host matches for Euro 2012. We therefore hope and believe that the appropriate state bodies in Ukraine will adopt the necessary decisions immediately."
Yushchenko, who played a key role in Ukraine and Poland winning the right earlier this year to host Euro 2012, has issued a decree ordering the dismantling of the building site.
Four Ukrainian cities are to host matches -- Dipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Kiev and Lviv.
Ukraine and Poland, both ex-communist countries, face huge logistical tasks in upgrading transport and communication links and building hotels.
In his comments to Reuters, Yushchenko renewed criticism of the early organisation. He has already accused the government, led by his arch rival Viktor Yanukovich, of failing to take preparations seriously.
"Many things that were supposed to have been completed by the organising committee have not been implemented," he said. "I have sent several letters warning the organising committee to change its approach towards the construction timetable."