UEFA Concerned About Safety In Euro 2012 Stadiums

VIENNA, Austria -- UEFA says it has concerns about safety at the stadiums to be used for next year's European Championship in Poland and Ukraine.


UEFA Head of Stadium and Security Marc Timmer said on Thursday that European football's ruling body is closely monitoring ongoing construction works ``to make sure that all minimum standards are met."

"At every venue, with no exception, there have been made many changes on our request," he said. "Of course, this is still a major concern. Until a venue is really commissioned, you never know what's going to happen. They might make changes."

Earlier this year, UEFA ruled that Poland's Miejski stadium in Poznan, which will host three matches at Euro 2012, could not be more than half full due to safety issues.

The 43,000-capacity stadium reopened after reconstruction in September 2010 but UEFA found faults such as blocked exits and seat numbering mistakes.

"We had numerous meetings in both countries where we were addressing our concerns," Timmer said. "Unfortunately, in Poznan they did not do it correctly so we had to tell them after the stadium opened ... It was a mess. We've put a lot of pressure on them to improve the situation."

Timmer spoke on the sidelines of an annual joint UEFA and European Union conference on safety and security in European football.

Six of eight venues for the June 8-July 1 event have been newly built - at Warsaw, Gdansk and Wroclaw in Poland and at Kiev, Donetsk and Lviv in Ukraine.

Like Poznan, the stadium in Kharkiv, Ukraine has also been rebuilt.

"That is a huge opportunity for construction businesses and for architects, everybody jumps on these projects and tries to get a piece out of the cake," Timmer said. "That's not always a guarantee for quality."

Timmer said that local authorities were often "signing off without actually inspecting the stadium. This is really an issue."

William Gaillard, advisor to UEFA president Michel Platini, added that "we have the case of new facilities not being safe. We tell the authorities: This won't go. It's just a waste."

According to Jo Vanhecke, vice-chairman of the Council of Europe Standing Committee on Spectator Violence, local authorities often close their eyes to safety and security issues.

"Too many people sign safety licenses for stadiums without even having been there," Vanhecke said. "They think: If I don't sign this, maybe my club won't be able to participate in the Champions League or the Europa League. They don't want negative publicity."

Vanhecke said that "architects want to build their dream. They are not even calculating evacuation routes. All safety rules are known and there are good practices all thoughout Europe. There are rules everyone has to respect. If you don't, you have a problem."

Source: AP

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