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Poland, Ukraine pledge happy end to Euro 2012 saga

SoccerNews in European Championships 14 Jul 2008

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Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk and his Ukrainian counterpart Yulia Timoshenko on Monday pledged their countries will be ready to host Euro 2012, amid jitters about preparations for the football showcase.

“Poland and Ukraine were given the chance to organise Euro 2012 and both countries will together steer this to a happy end,” Tusk told reporters at a joint press conference with the visiting Ukrainian premier.

Timoshenko, meanwhile, said the slogan for Poland and Ukraine was “two countries, one team”.

The meeting was the first between Poland and Ukraine’s leaders devoted to the tournament since April 2007, when the neighbours were UEFA’s surprise pick to host the 2012 edition of the quadrennial, 16-nation championships, beating Italy and joint bidders Hungary and Croatia.

The move raised eyebrows in the football world because neither the Poles nor Ukrainians have hosted a major tournament before.

There have been major concerns about the ability of both ex-communist states to meet the massive challenge of building the required stadiums and upgrading their transport and hotel sectors in time.

Tusk – who is an ardent football fan and keen spare-time player – and Timoshenko chaired a meeting of the Polish and Ukrainian organising task forces, focusing on road transport, border crossings and hotels.

They also hit back at the constant speculation that their countries could be stripped of Euro 2012 because they are allegedly incapable of organising such a high-profile event – in marked contrast to well-heeled Euro 2008 hosts Austria and Switzerland.

“Maybe there are places in Europe with an interest in seeing us fail. Our only answer will be solid, exact, efficient and coordinated cooperation,” Tusk said.

UEFA chief Michel Platini, who had repeatedly been sounding the alarm about the state of readiness, visited Poland and Ukraine earlier this month.

After his hotly-awaited trip, the boss of European football’s governing body gave Poland a cautious thumbs up but failed to offer Ukraine as positive a read out.

Platini set both hosts a final deadline to prove their mettle: they have until UEFA’s next executive committee session, scheduled in the French city of Bordeaux on September 25-26.

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