KIEV (Reuters) - Ukrainian officials put on a brave face over UEFA’s suggestion on Wednesday Kiev could be stripped of the final of Euro 2012 and its decision to delay naming any other host cities in Ukraine.
Michel Platini, head of European soccer’s governing body, said the capital Kiev was the only Ukrainian city confirmed to co-host the European Championship with Poland, subject to strict conditions.
Lviv, Donetsk and Kharkiv would have to wait to Nov. 30 for a final decision, whereas the Polish cities of Warsaw, Gdansk, Poznan and Wroclaw were confirmed as venues by Platini at a UEFA executive committee meeting in Bucharest.
Ukrainian officials interpreted Platini’s comments as essentially selecting the four cities in the country and giving them until November to resolve issues of stadium building and infrastructure.
“We are assuming that cities will be distributed between Ukraine and Poland on a parity basis and that by (November) 30...three more Ukrainian cities will be placed on the schedule of preparations for Euro,” Ukraine’s Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said.
“So four cities from Ukraine and four from Poland will host Euro 2012,” she told a news conference after a cabinet meeting.
Illya Shevlyak, chief executive of the Euro 2012 Coordinating Bureau, said: “It is important that Michel Platini recognised Ukraine’s considerable progress in terms of its preparations for the European Championship in recent months.
“I think the UEFA decision is a positive signal that has to motivate Ukrainian cities to intensify their preparations,” he told Reuters.
Neither local media nor the officials referred to Platini’s comments that Kiev could lose the final unless it met specific conditions on the renovation of its Olympiskiy Stadium, infrastructure and hotels by the end of November.
That would be a heavy blow for Ukraine, where Euro 2012 is one of the few forces which brings together antagonistic political parties and voters weary of more than four years of wrangling between the country’s leaders.
Preparations for the tournament have been hampered by red tape, legal wrangling and disorganisation.
The Polish city of Krakow, seen by the local media as one of the most likely contenders to host the tournament and highly praised by UEFA, was the most dissatisfied with the verdict that meant they missed out.
“This decision saddens me. I do not understand it. In the latest (UEFA) report Krakow was clearly the best prepared city. I’m happy the government upholds its commitment to investments,” Krakow mayor Jacek Majchrowski told a press conference.
Krakow, a historic city in southern Poland, along with Silesia’s Chorzow were originally named as back-ups when the list of potential venues was first submitted.
Platini said on Wednesday in Bucharest said both cities had done good work preparing for the tournament, but UEFA had decided to go with the original favourites as their preparations were going well.
During a special news conference, Poland’s sports Minister Miroslaw Drzewiecki praised the work done by all six cities and stressed there were no conditions attached to the selection of venues in the country.
“We must be happy that UEFA selected four cities without any conditions attached,” Drzewiecki said.
“Unfortunately some cities had to drop out. We will continue working with those two cities and they will still be part of preparations.”
He told public television TVP that Krakow and Chorzow should preparing continue in case they were needed after Nov.30.
“I am not wishing ill to our friends in Ukraine, by no means, but anything could happen,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Patryk Wasilewski and Anna Szlejter)
(To query or comment on this story email email@example.com)
For more news visit http://in.reuters.com