Ukraine Euro 2012 - A Football Extravaganza
There were millions of proud hearts and smiling faces across Ukraine on the December day in 2009 that Michael Platini, president of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) announced that the Euro 2012 championship tournament would be co-hosted by Ukraine and Poland, with the opening game taking place in Warsaw, and the big final match being held in Kiev. Lviv, Kharkiv, and Donetsk were the other Ukrainian cities chosen as venues for the tournament, while Poznan, Wroclaw, and Gdansk were the other Polish cities. Ukrainians had been anxiously awaiting the UEFA’s decision for months. “It’s a victory of Ukraine,” said Prime Minister Julia Tymoszenko. “I’m happy that the championships will take place in all four Ukrainian cities.”
Many people in the European soccer world believed the decision was a risky one, because neither Poland nor Ukraine had ever hosted such a large international sporting event before. “That’s one of the reasons why it is a great adventure for us,” said Mr. Platini. And while Poland’s preparations for the tournament were moving along nicely, there were concerns that Ukraine would not be ready on time. Stadiums had to be built to UEFA standards. UEFA officials began to travel to Kiev and the other Ukrainian host cities frequently to be sure that everything was on schedule and up to standards. There was also a worry that even though all of the chosen Ukrainian cities are popular tourist destinations, accommodations in Kiev and the other locations would be insufficient for the hordes of soccer fans who would be coming from all over Europe.
Ukrainian officials assured everyone that their country would be ready on time. The airport at Lviv was reconstructed; work began in earnest on the stadiums, and the federal government promised generous financial support. As of August, 2010, it appeared that the Ukrainian sites were on schedule to be ready in time. The official logo for Euro 2012 was unveiled in Mykhailivska Square in Kiev, in the presence of numerous sports celebrities and political dignitaries. Called The Euro Bloom, it features two flowers representing the host nations, and a central soccer ball that symbolizes the spirit and passion of competition. The logo was inspired by “wycinanka”, a traditional paper cutting art form that is practiced in rural parts of Poland and Ukraine. In accordance with the ideals of peace and unity through athletics, a Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) consultation took place in Kiev.
Tens of thousands of people will be descending on the host cities for these games. Unless you book rooms early, you are not likely to find a Kiev hotel with a vacancy at the time of the final match. People who plan on being in the Ukrainian capital for the tournament should be aware that if they are traveling on a budget, they do not necessarily have to stay in expensive Kiev hotels. By checking with agencies, they can get affordable, comfortable Kiev apartments. The same options will be available in the other Ukrainian cities. But book early.
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