Platini: Poland/Ukraine Have Met the Euro 2012 Challenge
June 4, 2012
(WFI) Despite stadia delays, funding crises and unfinished transport projects, UEFA president Michel Platini claims Poland and Ukraine have succeeded in overcoming their challenges and will deliver a memorable Euro 2012 - the first European Championship finals in eastern Europe.
"With the opening match just days away, it is already safe to say that the challenge has been proudly met, despite the various difficulties that have cropped up along the way," the Frenchman writes in the latest edition of the UEFA direct magazine.
"Stadiums have been built or renovated, airports, transport systems and hotels developed and modernised and all the necessary improvements made," he goes on.
"In short, both countries are now ready to host our continent's biggest football tournament in conditions worthy of an event of this magnitude."
The UEFA executive awarded the tournament to Poland the Ukraine in April 2007. Since then UEFA bosses have faced an uphill task to get both countries to deliver projects on time.
Two years ago, UEFA threatened to strip Ukraine of hosting status when financial rows delayed work on the Kyiv stadium project, venue for the July 1 final. Platini's criticism and government intervention helped put preparations back on track to the satisfaction of UEFA.
Poland, too, has been hit by stadium delays, while some transport infrastructure projects have not been completed. Several months ago UEFA conceded that not all of the host nations' pledges to improve transport links would be delivered.
"Right now, it is all about looking forward to watching Europe's best national teams in action, being bowled over by the feats of the players and sharing the excitement of the supporters – in other words, getting swept up in a great month-long international celebration of football," Platini stated in UEFA direct.
"This first European Championship final round to be played in eastern Europe marks a milestone in the history of UEFA's competitions. The work of the organisers must now be matched by the commitment of the players, the attitude of the coaches, the excellence of the referees and, above all, the passion of the fans, whose contribution to the beautiful game is so vital."
The 56-year-old yesterday tipped Spain and Germany to meet in the final.
"Spain has huge experience, Germany is a little younger, and is hungry for success. Spain would like to retain their title with an outstanding generation of players," he told AFP.
"We will see extraordinary matches with teams who came through qualifying without dropping a point, and with players that are extremely strong.
"But is not for nothing that they [Spain] have already won it. At the last World Cup Germany made a good impression, but came across a good Spanish side in the World Cup semi-finals to whom they lost.
"It is evident that these two sides have something extra."
Euro 2012 kicks off at Warsaw's National Stadium on June 8.
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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