It was supposed to refocus UEFA away from Western Europe — the awarding of hosting rights to Ukraine alongside Poland for Euro 2012 seemed like a giant leap forward for Eastern European football when it was announced two years ago.
But now, it looks like all the decision has done is given UEFA its hardest decision for some time: whether to remove the hosting rights from Ukraine, as stalled preparations for Euro 2012 are shedding an unpleasant light on all of the problems the game and the nation’s infrastructure has there. The necessary work on transportation links, accommodation and stadia is far behind schedule, even with three years to go.
UEFA this month confirmed five cities as hosts for games in 2012, but only one in Ukraine. The Dnipropetrovsk stadium, expensively built, has been dropped from UEFA’s list for 2012 as the 31,003 capacity is curiously just short of the required 33,000 minimum, with no commitment to a temporary capacity increase given.
And UEFA gave three Ukrainian cities, Donetsk, Lviv, and Kharkiv, until the end of November to prove that they will have adequate infrastructure for the tournament, leading the New York Times to comment that “Ukraine may, in the end, be an example of how not to prepare for a world-class sporting event.”
Political and economic problems have bedeviled preparations. A veto by President Viktor Yushchenko on €880 million of government funding for the projects on August 3rd was the latest blow, with parliament attempting to override his decision, which he argued was needed to prevent the inflation crisis in the country spiralling further and an increase in corruption.
Meanwhile, it seems almost certain that Poland will host the final of the tournament, after it was announced this month that UEFA was shifting the location of the International Broadcasting Center’s (IBC) broadcasting base from Kiev to Warsaw — the IBC is usually in the same city as the final. Kiev’s stadium project has been plagued by problems, including an enforced change of stadium contractor.
If UEFA determines Ukraine is too much of a risk by the end of this year, their reserve plan calls for the games planned for there to move to Germany instead, raising the remarkable prospect of a joint Polish-German European championship.