UEFA monitoring economic crisis' impact on Ukraine
And preparations to hosting EURO 2012
UEFA is monitoring the impact of the global financial crisis on Ukraine`s and Poland`s preparations to co-host the 2012 European Championship, AP reported.
"Naturally, you should have fears when you`re faced with such a global financial downturn," UEFA general secretary David Taylor told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
"I think it`s no secret that Ukraine has the more immediate difficulties given its IMF loan and looking at balancing its government budgets, and these are things that are clearly of concern to us."
Ukraine received a $16.5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to help combat the crisis. The IMF expects Ukraine`s economy to contract by at least 6 percent this year, and the national currency has lost about 43 percent since September.
Speaking at a UEFA anti-racism conference in Warsaw, Taylor said UEFA was in contact with the Ukrainian government and has received assurances that the 2012 tournament remains a "top priority" despite the economic turmoil.
"I can imagine it is because of course it`s not just football here, it`s infrastructure development which is required anyway in a country such as Ukraine and perhaps at this time of crisis to find construction projects that can be supported very directly by the government is not a bad thing," he said.
In April 2007, UEFA awarded Ukraine and Poland the right to co-host Euro 2012. But the countries` preparations became dogged by construction delays with stadiums, roads, airports and hotels, leading UEFA to warn Warsaw and Kiev that they could lose the tournament if they didn`t pick up the pace of preparations.
Both put construction back on track in recent months, and Taylor noted improvements on key sticking points.
At the top of the list was the stadium in Kiev, which was slated to host the tournament final and demands major renovation work. UEFA warned Ukraine that without the stadium in Kiev there will be no tournament in Ukraine.
"There`s clear progress on the stadium, there`s no doubt," Taylor said. "They weren`t starting at base camp, but a few steps behind. Give credit to them. They haven`t quite moved mountains, but they certainly moved the city authorities in order to get this project under way. And we`ve been very clear, UEFA said unless you deliver this project it doesn`t affect just Kiev but all of Ukraine.
"They still have a long way to go. It`s a difficult project. But we`re impressed by their commitment."