Platini Still Sees "Problems" With Ukraine For 2012

KIEV, Ukraine -- UEFA president Michel Platini said Monday he still had picked up on many little problems afflicting Ukraine's preparations to co-host next year's European Championships with Poland as he paid a visit to one of the host cities, Lviv.

Michel Platini (2nd R) and Borys Kolesnikov (R) examine a construction site in Donetsk.

Although he recognised that "much has changed - there are hardly any large problems" since earlier visits Platini still said he feared that "there are many little problems" even as Lviv prepares for the inauguration of its stadium in a month's time.

A new airport terminal is still being built and the runway is still being lengthened in order to be able to cope with large aircraft bringing in thousands of fans.

The new services are set to come on stream on Christmas Day, according to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Boris Kolesnikov.

Platini later headed off to Donetsk and was also to visit Kharkiv in the east before heading to Kiev where Tuesday he was to visit the Olympic Stadium, prior to a reception with President Viktor Yanukovich.

The stadium is due to host the final of the tournament and Kolesnikov says it is now 96 percent ready but it was due to be completed last June.

Euro 2012 kicks off on June 8 next year and runs to July 1.

Ukrainian officials insist they will be ready when the time comes.

"Platini will see everything for himself," the chairman of the Ukrainian Football Federation Grigori Sourkis had said Friday ahead of the Frenchman's visit.

Sourkis had added that he believed that UEFA's initial "scepticism and pessimism have disappeared" regarding his country's ability to co-stage one of the world's biggest sporting events.

With regard to other Ukrainian venues the stadiums at Donetsk and Kharkiv are both up and running - having been privately financed.

The stadium at Donetsk has been constructed under the aegis of Ukraine's richest businessman, Renat Akhmetov, who is close to the president and a member of his party.

But the Donestk mayor is still fretting over a shortage of hotel capacity.

There have been doubts meanwhile about the use of public funds to help with preparations in a country where corruption is a byword.

"The cost of a seat in the ultra-modern stadium at Donetsk has risen to some $10,000 dollars," one high-ranking official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

At Lviv, where the state is bankrolling the venue construction, "this figure is already up to $14,000 dollars," added the source in decrying such apparent "signs of corruption".

Source: AFP