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4 Jul, 2008 01:33

Ukraine commits foul ahead of hosting Euro 2012

In four years' time, Ukraine and Poland are scheduled to host one of the most prestigious sporting events in their history, the European Football Championship. But there are doubts now about Kiev's ability to satisfy the

The main venue for the Euro 2012 football championship in Kiev currently presents an upsetting picture – crumbling walls, contractors disputing a tender in court and the government dragging its feet over the whole project.

Michele Platini, the UEFA president, arrived in Kiev amid doubts that Eastern European neighbors, Ukraine and Poland, could host the tournament. The French have called for tough work in order to make a credible showing.

The Ukrainian government faces constant criticism for its slow progress both from abroad and its own people. Bumpy roads, outdated airports and Soviet-built stadiums all fall far short of European standards.

The government has dismissed a Taiwanese firm hired to rebuild the main venue in Kiev and has not approved a new contractor yet.

A former secretary of the Ukrainian Football Federation Anatoly Popov is doubtful that the country can complete the project on time.

“They've wasted a year. The sooner our government admits it the better. Nothing has been done so far. They won a tender thanks to colourful pictures instead of real roads, construction sites or stadiums. It’s like UEFA gave us an advance but we are failing to pay it back,” Anatoly Popov says.

Political squabbling between President Yushchenko and Prime Minister Timoshenko ahead of the 2010 presidential vote seems to be hampering preparations as well. But both are still trying to put a positive spin on things.

“Ukraine is honoured to host the championship. We are very grateful to you. Our Ukrainian team says that we will do everything, even the impossible if needed. It will be a feast of football for the whole world,” pledges Timoshenko.

Michelle Platini said they have no contingency plan if the co-hosts fail the project. But Italy, Scotland, Croatia and Hungary are breathing down Ukraine’s neck in case they stumble.