Sports News

Ukraine says UEFA pleased with Euro 2012 plans

KIEV (Reuters) - A senior Ukrainian official said on Friday the European governing soccer body UEFA was no longer worried about the former Soviet state’s ability to co-host the 2012 European soccer championship with Poland.

Deputy Prime Minister Ivan Vasyunyk was quoted by the UNIAN news agency as saying he had noted a more favourable outlook in talks with UEFA officials on Thursday in the Swiss town of Nyon.

“The atmosphere in Vienna and that in Nyon were completely different,” Vasyunyk was quoted as saying. “I did not hear any member of their executive board or expert express doubts or criticism of Ukraine working towards staging Euro 2012.”

UEFA is due to decide next week whether to take the championships away from Ukraine and Poland after criticising progress on building stadiums and modernising infrastructure.

Vasyunyk said discussions at a UEFA meeting in Vienna in June had focused on delays in renovating Kiev’s main stadium, due to host the 2012 final.

“Yesterday, UEFA experts noted that the anti-crisis plan for the stadium has been fulfilled,” he said. Reconstruction of the 84,000-seat facility would begin by the end of the year once an adjacent shopping centre was torn down.

The project was delayed for a year by wrangles over the shopping centre which blocked exits and violated safety rules.

Vasyunyk also said UEFA officials were aware that Ukraine was starting from scratch in drawing up plans to modernise airports and build sufficient numbers of new hotels.

President Viktor Yushchenko assured Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk at talks in Kiev that all deadlines would be met.

“He said all sites would be completed in good time,” Yushchenko’s press service quoted him as saying.

Ukraine’s soccer federation earlier said officials, including federation president Grigory Surkis, had assured UEFA that political problems would have no effect on preparations.

A dispute between Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has split the ruling coalition and, unless a new coalition is formed, Ukraine may hold its third parliamentary election in as many years.

“The deputy prime minister said Euro 2012 became the first project in the history of Ukraine that united all political forces,” a federation statement said.

“(He said) this will ensure that the political situation will not impact the country’s preparations for hosting the championship in 2012 and on the government’s responsibilities as promised to UEFA.”