Ukraine persuaded UEFA to delay 2012 cities decision

KIEV (Reuters) - UEFA were set to name six Polish cities as Euro 2012 venues before Ukrainian officials persuaded the European governing body to delay a decision, Ukraine soccer federation president Grigory Surkis said on Thursday.

On Wednesday UEFA confirmed the Polish cities of Warsaw, Gdansk, Poznan and Wroclaw and the Ukrainian capital Kiev as venues. But it said the other Ukrainian cities Lviv, Donetsk and Kharkiv would have to wait until November 30 for a final decision.

UEFA president Michel Platini also warned Ukraine that Warsaw could stage the final if the problems in Kiev with its main stadium, airport and transport infrastructure were not resolved.

Surkis said the outcome of UEFA’s meeting in Bucharest could have been far worse for Ukraine which has been criticised repeatedly for its slow pace in preparing for the tournament.

“During my speech in Bucharest, I tried to persuade the UEFA executive committee to maintain the principle of equal proportion because violation of this principle could lead to social apathy in Ukraine,” Surkis told reporters. “The Ukrainian people would take the inequality as a personal tragedy -- they would consider themselves second rate people.

Bureaucracy, legal wrangling and limited funds as the global financial crisis takes its toll in Ukraine have delayed the renovation of stadiums in Kiev and Lviv, and slowed work on upgrading airports and building hotels and roads.

Officials, including Surkis, vowed to speed up preparations to convince UEFA to guarantee the four cities when it next considers the issue on November 30.

Writing by Sabina Zawadzki; Editing by John Mehaffey