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The Warsaw Voice » Other » March 5, 2008
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Stepping Up Euro 2012 Preparations
March 5, 2008   
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The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has criticized Poland and Ukraine's preparations for hosting the finals of the Euro 2012 soccer tournament. After an initial assessment in January, UEFA President Michel Platini confirmed that the decision to award Poland and Ukraine the right to host the event had been correct. However, he suggested that the two countries should step up the pace of their preparations considerably.

Doubts have been raised about whether Poland will manage to complete the preparations on time and whether it will have enough money for this great investment program. The tournament is a UEFA event and no national soccer federation has the right to decide who will host it. Only the UEFA Executive Committee is entitled to do so, and the committee has already made the decision. There is general agreement in Poland and Ukraine that we should stop talking about the possibility of changing the host countries. We are aware of the scale of the tasks we have to carry out, and that is why there is increasing mobilization within parliament, national government and local governments. We are even trying to persuade UEFA that a tournament hosted by two large European countries should be played in 12 stadiums in 12 cities, rather than eight. We believe that UEFA's decision on this matter will be positive.

The best possible organization of the tournament is in the interest not only of Poland and Ukraine, but also the entire soccer community. One should also consider the new business opportunities that it will bring for UEFA partners. We would like the 2012 tournament to be run very well, particularly as a sporting event of this significance has not been held in this part of Europe since the 1982 Olympic Games in Moscow.

There is a huge amount of work to be done. The recent signal from UEFA and Michel Platini has accelerated preparations in both Poland and Ukraine. A system is now in place to monitor progress in the most important areas: the construction and modernization of stadiums and accommodation centers, expansion of airports, and road and rail infrastructure. We have to upgrade eight airports so that they can handle international traffic around the clock. Another important issue is security. Ukraine is not an EU member state, which means we have to unify our border crossing, information and telecommunication systems. We need huge centers producing TV signals that will be available all over the world. Medical facilities must also be upgraded.

UEFA has promised to help us. Their experts will visit the two countries and be responsible for specific tasks. In February, the visits were related to stadiums, transport infrastructure, accommodation and medical facilities. A group of experts will also visited reserve cities. The results of these visits will be known in late March.

Adam Olkowicz, president of the UEFA Euro 2012 organizing team
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