KIEV, Aug 5 (Reuters) - UEFA will not deny Ukraine their chance to co-host the 2012 European championship with Poland as planned, a top Ukrainian soccer official was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
UEFA president Michel Platini has visited Kiev twice this year and has warned officials about slow preparations. European soccer’s ruling body will meet next month to assess whether the two ex-communist countries are in a position to host the event.
“There is no doubt that the final of the Euro 2012 championship will take place in Ukraine,” UNIAN news agency quoted Serhiy Storozhenko, First Deputy Chairman of the Ukrainian Soccer Federation, as telling a conference.
“No one is going to take it away and any such talk is sheer gossip. But our people are such that we need time for reflection. And I would say that this time is up.”
Ukraine and Poland were awarded the 2012 tournament last year, seeing off competition from Italy and a joint bid by Hungary and Croatia, after a personal appeal from President Viktor Yushchenko.
But both countries must tackle the colossal tasks of upgrading stadiums and modernising airports, rail and road networks and hotels.
A stumbling block in Kiev is the renovation of the 84,000-seat Olympic stadium, due to stage the final. A Taiwanese contractor was chosen to renovate the site, but officials have ceased all contacts with it and have yet to choose another firm.
Storozhenko said officials had overcome delays in organising work and were now proceeding quickly with construction projects.
He predicted UEFA inspectors due to tour sites in Ukraine from August 18-21 would be “surprised” at the progress.
UEFA officials have denied any contingency plan exists to move the tournament if Ukraine failed to meet requirements.
Writing by Ron Popeski; editing by Trevor Huggins