Platini Urges Support For Ukraine And Poland

KIEV, Ukraine -- UEFA President Michel Platini urged the international community to back Ukraine and Poland in organising Euro 2012 despite doubts the ex-communist states, especially Ukraine, are able to do so.

UEFA President Michel Platini

Platini, quoted by the Ukrinform news agency while visiting Italy, said such public support was vital "in order to implement the democratic decision made by the UEFA executive committee to hold Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine".

UEFA chose the joint bid last year over submissions from Italy and another joint proposal from Hungary and Croatia.

Delays in rebuilding stadiums and proceeding with construction and modernisation of roads, airports and hotels have given rise to doubts that ex-Soviet Ukraine will be able to take on the mammoth task of staging half the tournament.

Platini has visited Ukraine twice this year and warned officials that the next few months were critical in moving ahead with preparations.

He said after talks in Kiev this month that a UEFA executive meeting in September would make a final assessment.

UEFA officials have denied suggestions that contingency plans have been drawn up to hand the tournament to another country if Ukraine proves unable to meet requirements.

In his latest comments, Platini denied a suggestion that such plans might involve Italy being asked to step in to run the tournament.

"Italy will probably want to stage the tournament in 2016," he was quoted as saying, but added that the country's stadiums were "not the best in Europe, old and not especially beautiful".

One of the key issues dogging Ukrainian organisers is the renovation of Kiev's 84,000-seat Olympic stadium, due to hold the Euro 2012 final.

A Taiwanese firm won a tender earlier this year to modernise the facility, but Ukrainian officials have since ceased all dealings with the company and reopened the bidding to German firm GMP and Britain's Foster and Partners.

Media reports say the new contractor is to be chosen this week.

Source: The Herald