Choice of Euro 2012 cities faces delay
The Ukrainian capital Kiev and the city of Donetsk are expected to be named as 2012 European championship venues but UEFA's executive committee could delay naming the other Ukrainian host cities.Sources close to the committee have told Reuters that all four of the cities put forward by co-hosts Poland to stage matches in three years' time should be named as expected: Warsaw, Poznan, Wroclaw and Gdansk.
However, doubts remain about the viability of the Ukrainian cities of Lviv and Dnipropetrovsk to stage games. Kharkiv, on the reserve list of nominated venues, could yet be chosen ahead of them, although Odessa, also on the reserve list, is unlikely to be nominated.
One source indicated to Reuters that Poland's reserve cities of Chorzow and Krakow would be chosen to leave Poland with six cities and Ukraine with two, although that notion has previously been rejected by both the Polish and Ukrainian authorities.
"There is no doubt that huge problems still exist in Ukraine and there is some considerable concern among the members of the Executive Committee that these problems can be solved anywhere in time ahead of the competition, which is only three years away," said the source.
Another source close to the Executive Committee said: "UEFA are unlikely to enter a political minefield of choosing six Polish cities and only two from Ukraine when the eight venues should be equally divided among the two countries.
"However if only two Ukrainian cities are named on Wednesday, this will put enormous pressure on the authorities there to get a move on with the other two. But it will also make Ukraine feel like the little brother of the co-hosts and this will not be good either."
UEFA president Michel Platini warned the co-hosts last month that six to eight cities would be selected and not necessarily in equal proportion between Poland and Ukraine.
What is certain is that Euro 2012 will definitely be staged in the two countries after two years of often painfully slow progress since they were awarded the tournament in April 2007.
Sports officials and politicians say they want the games split down the middle between Ukraine and Poland.
"I'll say it again: our position, along with the Poles, is in favour of complete parity, equal opportunity," Ukrainian Football Federation president Grigory Surkis, a member of UEFA's Executive Committee, said last week.
"Even if my colleagues from UEFA offered me a greater number of spots than Poland, I would be the first to refuse them."
The Polish organisers of Euro 2012 held a news conference on Tuesday at Krakow's historic salt mine of Wieliczka, with Michal Listkiewicz, the former chairman of the Polish FA (PZPN) and still a high ranking official declaring: "Both Ukraine and Poland did a great job and I am sure UEFA could easily name all 12 cities as the hosts.
"There is no such option now, but even those cities which will have the right to feel a bit disappointed will also still benefit from the championship."
Ukrainian authorities have thrown their efforts behind Kiev's preparations after Platini said that if the capital failed to modernise its stadium on time, the country risked losing the right to stage the competition.
Ukraine though, has been hit badly by the global financial crisis.
A deep recession has brought construction to a virtual standstill in the country and industry is producing about a third less than a year ago, severely depressing revenue from exports. However, the stadiums have been identified as priority projects and work is continuing on them.
The eastern industrial city of Donetsk - home to UEFA Cup finalists Shakhtar Donetsk - has much going for it because the five-star Donbass Arena stadium, which should hold 50,000 fans, is due to be unveiled in August.
Eastern cities Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk, together with Lviv, a historical tourist city close to the Polish border, are vying for the final two places - if they are awarded to Ukraine.