UEFA Praises Ukraine's Euro 2012 Preparations

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's authorities are meeting preparation deadlines for the 2012 European Championship, although there is still work to be done in stadium construction, transport links, accommodation and other infrastructure.

UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino

That's the view of UEFA after general secretary Gianni Infantino wrapped up a two-day trip on Thursday to check on Ukraine's four host cities for Euro 2012, which will be co-hosted with Poland.

"Lots of work has been done. Deadlines are being met," Infantino said. "I am fully optimistic over the success of Euro 2012 in Ukraine.

"The eyes of the world will focus on Ukraine. On July 1, 2012, Kiev will not be the capital of Ukraine anymore, it will be the capital of Europe and even the capital of the world. You will be proud of your country."

However, Infantino noted that hotel accommodation and an anticipated language barrier are still problems to be tackled.

"It does not help you to have 70,000 hotel rooms if nobody knows where they are located and how to get there," Infantino said.

"It's unlikely that in the next 18 months the rest of the world will learn Ukrainian, so maybe Ukrainians will use a little effort to learn a few words of foreign languages."

Infantino said concerns over the slow construction of a venue in the western city of Lviv and the reconstruction of Kiev Olympic stadium had been mostly alleviated, and described the stadium in Donetsk as unexpectedly being one of Europe's most beautiful.

He also looked satisfied with the stadium in Kharkiv, but pointed out that there is a lack of space to accommodate people.

"But I am sure what was promised will be done. We are positive, we are confident, we trust the football federation and we trust the government," said Infantino, praising Ukraine federation president Grygoriy Surkis and Deputy Prime Minister Borys Kolesnikov.

Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych invited UEFA president Michel Platini to visit the country in a letter published on his website.

"A chance to host the Euro 2012 final is a great honor for Ukraine, and properly organizing the tournament is an absolute key national priority," Yanukovych wrote.

Source: AP