(WFI) UEFA has backed Ukraine in the race against time to finish a new stadium in Kiev to host the Euro 2012 final, after finalising the match schedule for the tournament it will co-host with Poland.
“We feel that Ukraine is fully capable of doing the work [staging the finals],” UEFA president Michel Platini was quoted by Reuters as telling a news conference on Monday.
“Practically two years before the final round we are reassured by the work being undertaken in Poland and Ukraine.
“Therefore the executive committee has decided to split the finals equally between the cities in Poland and Ukraine. We are not going to change anything [from the original plan].”
UEFA has been closely monitoring progress on the delay-hit project and a stadium new-build in Lviv after threatening to strip Ukraine of its hosting role in the spring.
Financial and construction issues have plagued Ukraine’s organisation of the tournament. The country is also challenged to deliver on its promises for improved transport and accommodation infrastructure.
But the UEFA Executive Committee on Monday rubber-stamped the fixture list for the 31-match tournament, virtually guaranteeing the quadrennial football showpiece will be staged in the eight host cities as planned – four in Poland, four in Ukraine.
UEFA’s announcement at its meeting in Minsk, Belarus, came as some relief to Football Federation of Ukraine president Grigoriy Surkis.
“The UEFA Executive Committee has shown patience and tolerance, and these virtues have helped us move a step forward and establish our match calendar,” he told UEFA.com.
“The decision shows once again that we have risen to the occasion, and that we are drawing near to the kick-off.”
According to the Euro 2012 match schedule, the Polish capital Warsaw will host the opening game on June 8, while Ukraine’s leading city Kiev is the setting for the final on July 1.
Kiev’s 69,000-seater stadium, currently under construction and due to be finished next summer, will also stage three first-round matches and a quarterfinal.
Warsaw and Donetsk will also host the two quarter-finals and the semi-finals; the cities are scheduled to host five matches in total.
Gdansk is the other quarter-final venue.
The other host cities – Wroclaw, Poznan, Kharkiv and Lviv – will host three group stage matches.
In other news from Minsk, UEFA announced Sweden as the host nation for the 2013 European Women’s Championship in 2013, with the number of teams for the finals tournament kept to 12.
Regarding national association matters, Bosnia and Herzegovina Football Federation has been given until the end of March to change its statutes in keeping with UEFA regulations or risk suspension of all its membership rights.
The UEFA Executive Committee meets next in Prague on Dec. 9 to 10.
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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