UEFA: Ukraine costs should not put fans off

Travelling fans should not let the scarcity and cost of hotel rooms in Ukraine put them off attending matches at the Euro 2012 finals, leading UEFA official David Taylor said on Thursday.

Taylor, UEFA's former general secretary and now the head of its marketing company, praised the enormous strides taken by co-hosts Poland and Ukraine in preparing for the first major football championship to take place in eastern Europe, and stressed to fans there were alternatives to avoid being ripped off in Ukraine.

Speaking to reporters at Warsaw's impressive new national stadium where the Championship opens in exactly three months on June 8 when Poland face Greece, Taylor said: "There are issues with Ukrainian hotels - the main ones being the high prices being charged for one, two and three star hotels.

"It is possible to find lower price accomodation if you search but you need to search because some of the prices available on websites are at the high end of the what they should be.

"The problem of the prices in Ukraine is partly due to the scarcity of the hotels there compared to Poland, the normal hotel price in Ukraine is two or three times the cost of a hotel in Poland in any event.

"So it is a question of scarcity, but certain hotels are trying to maximise their revenue. This is to be expected but as we get nearer the start of the tournament they will be wanting to sell their rooms."

He added: "It doesn't help Ukraine in the long run to have people think twice about coming simply because they are put off by the cost of hotel nights.

"At the end of the day UEFA does not set hotel prices but we know that is an issue for some fans."

UEFA PRAISE

Taylor and tournament director Martin Kallen were full of praise for both countries who have completed the building of the stadiums well in advance of the start of the tournament, despite widespread sceptisism that they would do so.

Kallen dismissed a suggestion that more-westernised Poland would deliver a slicker, more efficient half of the tournament than Ukraine.

"The Poles have done a great job and the Ukranians have done a great job and Ukraine is expecting a lot of supporters," he said.

"They have invested an enormous amount of money and they are very proud. The final is in Ukraine, and I think everyone wants to be in the final [July 1] at the end in Kiev.

"The infrasttructure in Ukraine is good and the security there is safe so it's not a big iussue to travel around. I have done this for four years and I am confident that during the tournament there will be no issues whatsoever in terms of security for supporters.

"It has been a amazing journey for both countries and a difficult journey too. A lot of infrastructure had to be built and in a very short time, so for the countries it was always a struggle to achieve what was needed but they have fulfilled it."

Taylor and Kallen were speaking on the first day of a two-day workshop for the 16 finalists involving logistics, operational, medical and playing matters.

In a message to the finalists UEFA president Michel Platini predicted a "magnificent celebration of European football."

Platini, who won the tournament as a player with France in 1984 and then later coached his national side, told the coaches present: "I am speaking to you as a former colleague. I understand and share your hopes, your doubts and your desire to succeed. I too have experienced these often contradictory feelings that are part of this wonderful job.

"Euro 2012 will, like its predecessors, be a magnificent celebration of European football and an ideal showcase for our continent at a time when it faces some very difficult challenges outside the world of sport."


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