Ukraine Still Risks Losing Euro 2012

FLORENCE, Italy -- Ukraine still risks being excluded from hosting games at the 2012 European Championship if it doesn't get the necessary infrastructure in shape.

UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino.

"Nothing can be excluded at this stage, but the Ukrainians know what they have to do in order that this possibility doesn't occur," UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino told The Associated Press on Thursday. "We want to work together with the Ukrainians very hard and we are working very hard with them to make it happen in Ukraine."

Speaking at a European Professional Football Leagues meeting, Infantino said Ukraine has until the end of November to provide UEFA with the necessary guarantees. UEFA's executive committee will then make the final decisions at its meeting in Portugal on Dec. 9-11.

Ukraine is slated to co-host the championship with Poland, with each country featuring four cities. Kiev is slated to host the final. The other cities are Donetsk and Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine, and Lviv in the west.

In September, UEFA president Michel Platini insisted Ukraine will be allowed to host games, but that the number of host cities were still undecided. A week later, Euro 2012 chief operating officer Martin Kallen said Ukraine had made some progress, but that more work is needed in building hotels, stadiums and airports.

"There is still quite some work to do," Infantino said. "There are some promising signals, but there is still some hard work to be done."

Things are looking brighter for Euro 2016, with individual bids from France, Italy and Turkey and a joint proposal from Sweden-Norway.

"2016 looks quite promising," Infantino said. "Some are more advanced than others, but in general we think we'll have some quite competitive bids."

The 2016 candidates must prepare a bid dossier by Feb. 15, then UEFA's executive committee will choose the host in May 2010. The timetable gives the 2016 host six years to prepare for the tournament -- one more year than Poland and Ukraine have been granted in their troubled buildup to Euro 2012.

The 2016 tournament will feature 24 teams after UEFA decided last year to increase the field from 16.

Italian football federation president Giancarlo Abete said Italy's bid needs to get moving on the stadium front.

Juventus is building a new stadium in Turin, while clubs in Rome, Milan and other cities have only expressed an intention to construct new stadiums.

"Other nations have modernized quicker," Abete told The AP. "We've got to make these wishes that so many clubs have expressed into concrete substance. Juve's project is moving along, but several other clubs need to get going."

Italy's other problem is fan violence and security.

"We realize the spirit of the European Championship involves stadiums without barriers," Abete said. "But look at Poland and Ukraine. They've made progress on the stadiums, but they've had problems at the infrastructure level. There are a lot of variables to work on."

Source: AP