Hosting UEFA 2012

Hosting UEFA 2012

May 13, 2010

Having had the chance to visit both the Metalist Stadium in Kharkiv and the Olympic Stadium in Kyiv (variously known as Red Stadium, Stalin Republican Stadium, Nikita Khrushchev Stadium) I have to say they are like chalk and cheese.

The Kharkiv stadium opened in December 2009 and looks ready to host the games. Don’t get me wrong there are significant problems still to tackle; regeneration of the surrounding area, completing the transport infrastructure (though the new airport terminal at Kharkiv looks to be progressing) and the provision of adequate accommodation. In Among the Ukrainians I comment about the apprehension people feel about a repetition of Eurovision 2005 which was hosted by Kyiv. On that occasion, visiting guests had to live in tarpaulin tents because of the lack of hotel rooms. It could still happen in Kharkiv, but the preparations are well underway.

The outlook for Kyiv, on the other hand, is far less rosy. The Olympic Stadium is way behind: major structural work is not finished and concrete is still being poured. Of course, a contingency was built into the development plan and, now that winter is over, work could speed up. But I hear, that as a precaution, there’s a contingency plan to move to a German stadium for the final.

I hope not. The UEFA 2010 slogan is “Creating History Together” and that’s not the sort of history that Ukraine needs. Come on Ukraine!

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