Financial crisis threatens Ukraine as Euro 2012 host

The Canadian Press
10/31/2008 12:10:18 PM
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KYIV, Ukraine - Ukraine's severe financial crisis is threatening the country's ability to host the 2012 European Championship as most construction projects have stalled due to a liquidity crunch, an organizing official said Friday.

The chairman of Ukraine's organizing committee, Evhen Chervonenko, said in an interview that construction has frozen at about 80 per cent of the hotels needed to be built for the event, as banks are no longer extending loans to developers.

''For sure it (the crisis) will not help,'' Chervonenko said. ''I don't want to think and believe that Ukraine will lose Euro.''

The global financial crisis has hit Ukraine hard, and the country is expected to plunge into a recession next year. Ukraine's parliament was to hold a final vote Friday on a series of stabilization bills needed to secure a rescue loan from the International Monetary Fund.

Chervonenko said he would seek government support to help finance the construction of hotels, adding that guests and athletes could be put up on cruise ships in the host cities if they are not ready in time for the tournament.

However, the main projects - airports and stadiums - are going well and are on schedule, Chervonenko said.

Ukraine is co-hosting the championship with neighbouring Poland, but both have been warned multiple times by European soccer's governing body to speed up preparations for the event.

UEFA will decide in the first half of 2009 how many stadiums and cities will be used as venues.

Asked whether Ukraine will host the games, Chervonenko was unsure.

''You know, I don't even want to think,'' he said. ''If, when getting into a racing car, you think that you will crash, this will happen for sure.''

Chervonenko also criticized a statement by Grzegorz Lato, the newly elected head of the Polish Football Federation, who suggested that Poland might end up co-hosting the championship with Germany.

''I think Germany could join in'' if Ukraine drops out, Lato told Polish TVN24 television on Thursday. He then added ''I think Ukraine will be ready on time.''

Chervonenko described the comments as ''very painful.''

Zbigniew Kozminski, spokesman for Poland's Football Federation sought to ease tensions on Friday.

''It is not possible'' that Poland joins forces with Germany, Kozminski said. ''Ukraine must do this championship with Poland.'' 

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