|Uefa president Platini is satisfied with the progress of the Ukraine government [AFP]|
European football’s governing body Uefa have announced the Ukraine venues to host matches in the 2012 European football championships, confirming the capital Kiev will host the final.
The announcement came after Uefa appeared to back off from a threat to scrap planned matches in the co-host country.
Delays in building stadiums and infrastructure had raised doubts about whether all of Ukraine’s proposed venues would be ready for Euro 2012, which it is to co-host with neighbour Poland.
But Uefa’s executive committee said guarantees from the Ukrainian government, technical reports on the progress of work and consultations with the host associations led it to go ahead with plans for group games in three cities – Donetsk, Kharkiv and Lviv – and the final at the capital’s 77,000-capacity venue.
“I’m pleased to tell that thanks to the tremendous efforts of the Ukrainian government we can finally give the green light to a symmetrical tournament with four cities in Poland, and Kiev, Lviv, Kharkiv and Donetsk in Ukraine,” Uefa president Michel Platini said.
“There remains considerable work to be done and considerable hoops to jump through. I entirely trust Ukraine and Poland as hosts,” he added.
The tournament is being co-hosted with Poland, where four cities – Poznan, Wroclaw, Warsaw and Gdansk – had already been confirmed by Uefa as able to host matches.
“Today Ukraine won, the people of Ukraine won,” Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko told local television.
Uefa has been frustrated by the slow progress of work in Ukraine and in May gave the four cities six months to show significant improvement, with Platini decrying ‘huge’ problems with airport infrastructure, transport networks and suitable accommodation for a huge influx of fans.
“Mr. Platini, the great player and president, has given us a new opportunity, an opportunity to show what we are made of,” Ukrainian FA president Grigoriy Surkis told the news conference.
“We are going to make sure that Euro 2012 will be at least as successful as the previous two tournaments. Now isn’t a time to rest on our laurels.
“We’ve suffered a great deal in the run-up to this decision, a lot of difficulties have been experienced but…the red light has been averted because those warnings were heeded,” he added.
“We’re going to modernise our infrastructure, build what remains to be built, prepare for a wonderful spectacle. We’re going to leave no stone unturned to maintain the prestige of Uefa.
“It would have been so terrible to let this tremendous opportunity slip through our fingers. This enables us to ensure a promising future for our country. It’s not a Christmas present for me, it’s a Christmas present for all Ukrainians.”
Last May, Platini approved the Polish cities as venues but only Kiev of the four proposed Ukrainian cities.
Uefa extended the deadline for Donetsk, Kharkiv and Lviv and withheld a promise that Kiev’s reconstructed Olympic Stadium would host the final.
Since then, Ukraine has completed the 41,000-seat Metalist Stadium in Kharkiv and the Donbass Arena in Donetsk.
Kiev’s arena and the Lemberg Stadium in Lviv are still under construction.