UEFA praises Poland and Ukraine for stadiums

Poland and Ukraine's preparations for Euro 2012 have been far from seamless, however UEFA believes their stadiums are better than in ultra-efficient Austria and Switzerland four years ago.

"We didn't have a stadium in Austria or Switzerland which could compare to what we have in Gdansk or Donetsk," Martin Kallen, UEFA's head of operations, said during the International Football Arena conference on Tuesday.

Kallen said that the stadium in Warsaw was due to be finished next month, while the others at Gdansk, Wroclaw and Poznan in Poland and Kiev, Kharkiv, Lviv and Donetsk in Ukraine were all ready.

"Lviv inaugurated last Saturday. It was the subject of our main concern and I didn't believe the Tuesday before that it would be ready, but they did it," he said.

Preparations for the tournament have often been sluggish and UEFA at one point threatened to exclude Kharkiv, Lviv and Donetsk, giving them a six-month deadline in 2010 to show they were up to the job.

Kallen admitted that transport was not as good as it could be and that organisers were hoping for a favourable draw.

This could include Germany playing near their border with Poland, Russia playing near their border with Ukraine and Sweden playing in the Baltic port of Gdansk.

"It's true that the luck of the draw in Kiev on December 2 could help us in terms of where teams will go. In terms of transport we will never be at the same level as in Switzerland and Austria," he said.

However, he added the tournament would leave a legacy in terms of infrastructure.

"In Poland, it has been a catalyst to build motorways and most projects will be finished by the tournament. This will change Poland because it will give people a new lifestyle."

Airports, some of which were remnants of the Soviet era, had also been improved.

"Nobody is building airports just for the Euro. They are looking at what they need over the next 20 years and they are building for the future," said Kallen, adding that Gdansk had given him "sleepless nights."

Many fans will arrive by charter flights, with up to 150 expected at airports on match days.

Kallen said there was sufficient parking space although private jets in Ukraine could clog up airports.

Kallen said that UEFA wanted to avoid a repeat of 2008 when co-hosts Switzerland and Austria both went out in the group stage.

"It's important that both teams go as far as possible. In Switzerland and Austria, there was a good atmosphere but it wasn't the same as in Portugal [in 2004] when the hosts got to the final."


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