Will UEFA be haunted for good by Euro 2012?
Yet again I find myself asking the question: why did UEFA award Euro 2012 to Poland and Ukraine?
Questions marks have again been raised over the decision by European soccer’s governing body after it was yet again forced to set another deadline for Ukraine to meet is criteria for a number of its venues.
So has anything changed since I wrote a blog from the UEFA crunch meeting in Bordeaux last September when both countries were given a final warning over their lacklustre preparations for European soccer’s top event?
Poland seems to have made steady progress on its stadiums at least but UEFA sources say the related infastructure such as transport links and accommodation are still questionable.
Ukraine, reeling from the impact of the worst financial crisis in nearly 80 years, is still way behind and has been warned they risk losing the right to stage the final in Kiev if they don’t get their act together before November 30.
How many warnings does a country need before delivering upon its promises? Does UEFA have a plan B if the Kiev government fails to meet the deadline?
Or as some cynical analysts suggest, is this a neat exit strategy for Ukraine? It has been one of the countries hardest hit by the global economic slump, having had to ask for a huge loan from the International Monetary Fund.
Some commentators say if UEFA takes away the final or there is a major imbalance between the number of games played in Ukraine compared to neighbouring Poland, Kiev may use it as an excuse to withdraw and save face by blaming the governing body and its co-host.
Ukrainian officials have played down any worries and say they expect four cities from each nation to host matches.
Whatever happens — even if Ukraine and Poland manage to satisfy UEFA in November — the decision to allow the two to stage the event will haunt the governig body and its president Michel Platini for some time to come.
PHOTO: UEFA President Michel Platini speaks to the media during a news conference in Warsaw April 16, 2009. REUTERS/Peter Andrews