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Despite Concerns, Euro Organisers Give Thumbs Up

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 KIEV: Hours before Friday’s Euro 2012 draw, the organisers have insisted next year’s tournament will be a huge success, despite concerns here about a lack of hotel rooms and inadequate infrastructure.

“Euro 2012 will be a resounding success, a milestone in the history of European football,” declared UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino at a press conference at Kiev’s Olympic Stadium, which will host the final on July 1.

“Airports, roads, train stations and hotels have been developed or built from scratch.

“Poland and the Ukraine are ready to cope with a massive influx of tourists next summer. Work that normally takes 20 years has been done in a few years.”

He was flanked by Grygoriy Surkis, president of the Ukraine Football Federation, and his Polish counterpart, Grzegorz Lato, who both insisted any last-minute teething problems will be solved before the kick-off on June 8.

But there are real fears here that Euro 2012, to be co-hosted by the Ukraine and Poland, will be mired in organisational problems with 189 days to go.

Corruption scandals have affected both countries recently, but, like the issue of stray dogs in Kiev being killed off by the authorities, they have largely been swept under the carpet ahead of the draw ceremony at Kiev’s Palace of Fine Arts.

Outside Kiev’s Olympic Stadium on Friday, police moved on a group of topless women demanding “Euro 2012 without prostitution” in a protest against the sex trade, with thousands of fans set to visit the country for the tournament.

After repeated delays and spiralling costs, the Ukraine has now opened the stadiums in the four host cities.

The Olympic Stadium is now the most expensive jewel in the tournament’s crown — at a cost of more than $550 million — with completely new venues in Lviv and Donetsk to go with the refurbished stadium in Kharkiv.

“The stadiums are all in top condition and apart from a few minor things, have all been very well done,” said Infantino, also referring to the Polish venues in Gdansk, Wroclaw, Poznan and Warsaw. There are still not enough hotel rooms in both Donetsk and Kiev, transport issues are yet to be resolved and Kiev hoteliers are planning to hike prices, but Surkis insists his country will be ready.

“When you walk the corridors of the stadium, there may be some dust on the floor from the construction workers, but these are the sort of problems which won’t exist when the tournament starts,” insisted the Ukrainian boss.

“There have never been such terms for the improvement of the infrastructure in this country.”

But heavy traffic jams causing lengthy delays on Kiev’s roads and a huge amount of building work continue to blight the capital’s image.

The problems do not just affect the Ukraine — Polish boss Lato winced visibly when asked about the investigations into corruption in his country.

Since 2005, Polish football has been rocked by repeated corruption cases, largely over match-fixing, leading to claims that the Polish FA has not done enough to stamp it out of the game.

They are currently under investigation by Poland’s Central Anti-corruption Bureau for a case allegedly involving plans to build a new headquarters.

“I wouldn’t like to say anything about that until the current investigations are completed and the authorities have the full results,” said Lato.