Soccer News

Soccer-Ukraine may lose Euro 2012 due to stadium, says official

KIEV, June 12 (Reuters) - Ukraine could lose the right to co-host the Euro 2012 soccer tournament due to delays in the renovation of Kiev’s Olympic stadium, an official from the Ukrainian soccer federation was quoted as saying on Thursday.

President Viktor Yushchenko has grown increasingly concerned in recent weeks over the slow progress of preparations and has given the organising committee to June 18 to resolve key issues.

UEFA President Michel Platini has criticised preparations in Ukraine and is to make another visit on July 1-2. Poland is the other co-host.

Rumours have periodically swept Ukraine’s capital that European soccer official are drawing up contingency plans to move the event elsewhere if demands are not met.

A Taiwanese company, Archaisa Design Group, won a tender to carry out reconstruction of the 80,000-seater stadium at an estimated cost of $300 million. The project also involves dismantling an adjacent shopping centre.

After months of wrangling over compensation, a deal was clinched to dismantle the centre but there is no sign of work having begun.

“The Asian company appears incapable of finishing the project and building work in time because of a lack of appropriate materials and building resources,” Boris Voskresensky, a deputy head of Ukraine’s Soccer Federation, told the daily Sport Express.

“There are now, overall, two variations. First, the government establishes that the Asians are incapable of meeting the conditions to complete the job and calls for a new tender,” Voskresensky, responsible for stadiums, told the daily.

“The second -- UEFA decides it is impossible to hold Euro 2012 in Ukraine. This, you will understand, is something that does not even bear thinking about.”

He said the Taiwanese firm had agreed to a plan under which the stadium would have a capacity of 85,000, but had since proposed a scheme for no more than 50,000 seats.

“You will understand that this suits neither our country or UEFA,” he added.

Ukraine President Yushchenko’s strong support for the bid was key in persuading UEFA to give Poland and Ukraine the right to host the competition. Both countries face colossal challenges in upgrading rail and road links, modernising airports and building hotels. (Reporting by Igor Nitsak, Writing by Sabina Zawadzki; Editing by Peter Rutherford)