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The Warsaw Voice » Law » February 20, 2008
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Law Firms Warm up for Euro 2012 Kickoff
February 20, 2008   
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Though Poland and Ukraine have been chosen to host the Euro 2012 European soccer championships, there is a huge amount of preparation and work to be done before the first whistle blows. From the announcement of the choice of venue, questions were publicly raised about how the two countries would manage to bring about the significant increase in investment necessary for a successful event.

These questions have recently been aired again by the FIFA and other footballing bodies anxious about progress in preparations for the event. To discuss one aspect of the preparations for Euro 2012, we spoke with Robert Jędrzejczyk and Paweł Grze¶kowiak, partners at the Warsaw office of the French law firm Gide Loyrette Nouel, about what is being done by their law firm in readiness for 2012.

This is obviously a major success story for Poland and Ukraine internationally. How ready are these two countries to host such an event, and what are the main tasks facing them?

Robert Jędrzejczyk: Yes, this is clearly an exceptional event. I don't think many people expected Poland and Ukraine to be chosen, but I firmly believe that, with the right preparation and support, the event will be a great success. The issue is really to ensure that the preparation is properly put in place. There is a long way to go, and four years is not a long time.

Paweł Grze¶kowiak: The main issue at this stage comes down to developing and modernizing the infrastructure on the ground. This is a huge task, involving the construction of hundreds of kilometers of freeways, modern, international stadiums and better rail links and airport facilities. Hosting Euro 2012 in two countries is a good idea for certain reasons, but it also leads to other problems given the vast distances involved between venues.

Just recently, the Polish Prime Minister accepted UEFA's criticism of 2012 preparations. How are the respective governments dealing with these issues?

PG: They were initially fairly quick to react, but it is still not clear how successful the measures will be. Poland and Ukraine have introduced new legislation to simplify and facilitate investment, including amendments to the public-private partnership procedure and public tenders, but UEFA are justified in having expected more.

RJ: No one could argue that preparations haven't fallen behind, but it was truly a mammoth task, even without the political changes both countries have experienced. There are still problems and no clear game plan domestically or between the countries. Now there must be a concerted effort to drive forward and make things happen.

How can law firms like yours help with this "mammoth task"?

RJ: While the governments introduce legislation to facilitate the preparations necessary, it will be largely down to private and public-private investors to take advantage of this and the openings for investment. Law firms such as Gide Loyrette Nouel have the essential knowledge and experience to assist international investors looking to come to Poland or Ukraine as part of the tournament preparations. The legal systems of these countries and the means of conducting business can be quite specific, and good, on-the-ground legal advice from qualified experts is vital to get things done swiftly and successfully.

PG: Gide Loyrette Nouel is one of only a few international law firms with a cross-disciplinary Sports Law team and offices in both Warsaw and Kiev. In view of Euro 2012 related projects, we established a team of dedicated specialists in a number of legal areas to help our clients across a broad legal spectrum. There are many ways in which law firms can help investors, not simply the construction of freeways and stadiums, but also with audiovisual issues, trademark law and sponsorship advice, as well as relationships with sporting institutions and, of course, litigation of all kinds.

Is there anything special about it being a soccer event?

RJ: Apart from the fact that both countries have great enthusiasm for soccer, and footballing tournaments tend to draw greater interest than many other sporting events, there should be no real difference from an investor's or law firm's point of view. At Gide we have been involved in many international sporting spectacles, such as this year's Beijing Olympics, the 2007 Rugby World Cup and the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France. The expertise required and the know-how gained from each is fairly similar.

PG: And it is not only the large occasions that give experience; sometimes valuable experience comes from working on the smaller events. Gide Loyrette Nouel gained valuable experience in broadcasting rights while working with a telecom operator on the Roland Garros tennis tournament, and developed our sponsorship and advertising knowledge while working on yachting and motor racing events. All this experience and know-how is useful and relevant, regardless of the sport, or the international appeal of the event.
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