Ukraine cities get Euro 2012 green light

FUNCHAL, Portugal - Ukrainian cities Kiev, Lviv, Donetsk and Kharkiv will host matches in the 2012 European championships, UEFA said on Friday, with the capital confirmed as the venue for the final. European football's governing body had delayed the decision over hosting matches in all the proposed Ukrainian cities except Kiev after the slow progress of infrastructure projects.

"I'm pleased to tell that thanks to the tremendous efforts of the Ukrainian government we can finally give the green light to a symmetrical tournament with four cities in Poland, and Kiev, Lviv, Kharkiv and Donetsk in Ukraine," UEFA president Michel Platini told a news conference.

"There remain considerable work to be done and considerable hoops to jump through. I entirely trust Ukraine and Poland as hosts," he added. The tournament is being co-hosted with Poland, where four cities - Poznan, Wroclaw, Warsaw and Gdansk - had already been confirmed by UEFA as able to host matches.

"Today Ukraine won, the people of Ukraine won," Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko told local television.

UEFA has been frustrated by the slow progress of work in Ukraine and in May gave the four cities six months to show significant improvement, with Platini decrying 'huge' problems with airport infrastructure, transport networks and suitable accommodation for a huge influx of fans. NEW OPPORTUNITY

"Mr. Platini, the great player and president, has given us a new opportunity, an opportunity to show what we are made of," Ukrainian FA president Grigoriy Surkis told the news conference.

"We are going to make sure that Euro 2012 will be at least as successful as the previous two tournaments. Now isn't a time to rest on our laurels.

"We've suffered a great deal in the runup to this decision, a lot of difficulties have been experienced but...the red light has been averted because those warnings were heeded," he added.

"We're going to modernise our infrastructure, build what remains to be built, prepare for a wonderful spectacle. We're going to leave no stone unturned to maintain the prestige of UEFA.

"It would have been so terrible to let this tremendous opportunity slip through our fingers. This enables us to ensure a promising future for our country. It's not a Christmas present for me, it's a Christmas present for all Ukrainians."

Surkis said he had missed his father's 90th birthday to attend the meeting on the island of Madeira.

"Elderly people understand the importance of these transformations. He was present when World War Two was won. My father has had a very difficult life; this is a heart-warming decision for him."