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Can Euro hosts create history together?

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Dan Roan | 08:26 UK time, Friday, 2 December 2011

For a man responsible for delivering the first major sporting event in a former communist country since the 1980 Moscow Olympics, Borys Kolesnikov appears to be handling the pressure well.

"We will be ready", Ukraine's Vice-Prime Minister proudly told me repeatedly during an interview to discuss his country's somewhat fraught preparations for Euro 2012.

Kolesnikov's office was straight out of the Cold War, with phones connected to the Kremlin, and a world map centred on Moscow. But it was also festooned with official Euro 2012 memorabilia. For Ukraine, it's clear that this is a big opportunity to look forward, and towards the west.

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Two years ago, Uefa thought long and hard about stripping the country of European football's showpiece event, such was the level of concern following a series of missed construction deadlines and failed inspections.

After years of reliance on the federation's traditional territories of Holland & Belgium, Portugal, and then Austria & Switzerland, taking the event further east than ever before seemed too much of a risk.

But today, with work on its four host-stadia already completed, including perhaps the most beautiful I've ever seen at the reconstructed Olympic Stadium in Kiev which will play host to the final, Kolesnikov will take his seat at the draw ceremony at the National Palace of Arts and bask in the knowledge that Ukraine has proved the doubters wrong.

An ill-advised and now abandoned slaying of the capital's stray dogs provoked bad publicity and some preparations in the western city of Lviv are behind schedule but, overall, the mood is triumphant.

"If you don't bring tournaments to places like this we will never develop" says Kolesnikov. "We have built new stadia, new roads, new airport terminals, new hotels."

Twenty years after independence, Ukraine is relishing the opportunity to welcome the rest of Europe to its host cities in a way this former Communist country has rarely done.

Unlike in neighbouring Poland, where their status as co-hosts is remarkably low-key, the sense of participation in Kiev is palpable. In Independence Square a gigantic screen projects images of the Ukrainian national team.

A sparkling new terminal will soon greet visitors at the airport. For those fans with a sense of adventure, and who can handle the unfamiliar Cyrillic signage, places like Donetsk, Kharkiv and Lviv will provide a fascinating experience.

And yet, for all Ukraine's excitement and appeal to the football tourist, doubts remain over its suitability as a host.

Kevin Miles of the Football Supporters' Federation says the event will present England fans with the greatest challenge they've ever faced at a European finals.

A visit to Kiev's beautiful, Soviet-era railway station, from where antiquated trains travelling to the other Group D host city Donetsk take a full 12 hours, shows why.

Fans crossing between the two co-hosts will also require patience as different rail gauges require the wheels to be changed between Ukraine and Poland. There are still no motorways in Ukraine.

And in order to satisfy Uefa's minimum requirement of hotel rooms for a semi-final city, Donetsk has been forced to include all those within a 250-mile radius, such is the shortage.

The Olympic Stadium in Kiev

Poland and Ukraine have invested billions to ensure a successful tournament. Photo: Getty

In Poland, the concerns are more to do with visitor safety. An Independence Day riot in Warsaw last month was a stark reminder of the kind of violence that has marred the co-hosts' football for years. May's Polish Cup Final between Legia Warsaw and Lech Poznan descended into large-scale clashes between rival sets of thugs.

Racism is an issue, too, with offensive banners and chanting a regular feature at league matches. From his base in Warsaw, Dr Rafal Pankowski of Never Again, an anti-racist organisation part of the Fare (Football Against Racism in Europe) network, tells me that more than 200 cases of anti-semitic or racist propaganda have been recorded in the last year-and-a-half at matches in Poland and Ukraine, "and that's just the tip of the iceberg".

Pape Samba Ba, a Senegalese international who plays for Odra Opole in the Polish league, has been on the receiving end. The 29-year-old has played in Poland for nine seasons, but had to leave his previous club because he was repeatedly abused - by the home fans.

"I just didn't understand why they did it," he tells me in the shadow of Warsaw's impressive new Olympic Stadium, where the tournament will begin. "This was my own fans. They would scream at me, throw lighters, and tell me to go back to Africa.

"It's getting better here, but if Poland are drawn to play against England or France who they know have plenty of black players, it could happen [at Euro 2012]."

Kristoph Pohorecki, executive director of Euro 2012 in Poland, denies that racism will rear its head next summer.

"It does happen and it is a pity," he tells me. "But Poland has a responsibility to welcome the world here. We will be very tough with anyone who spoils the festival of football.

"There will be no offensive banners or flags allowed in the stadium. Outside the grounds I do not see there will be a problem. We know how to police these events."

Poland has spared no expense preparing for Euro 2012 with 18 billion euros spent upgrading the country's infrastructure. There is a sense that they know they cannot afford to fail.

Two decades after they emerged from behind the Iron Curtain, Poland and Ukraine have a golden opportunity to live up to the tournament's motto, and 'Create History Together'.

Two countries previously hidden can put on an unforgettable show for those who travel here, and prove Uefa was right to take football eastwards. European football's elite are about to discover their Euro 2012 fate.

For Poland and Ukraine, the task of proving fitting hosts is well underway.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    It will be fascinating to see how Ukraine and Poland cope with hosting Euro 2012. For all the doubts about distance, crime and infrastructure I wholeheartedly believe they can do this. Anyone remember what the doubts about South Africa 2010 were... Roll on 2012!

  • Comment number 2.

    Samba Ba's words say it all: "This was my own fans. They would scream at me, throw lighters, and tell me to go back to Africa".

    Racists really are THAT ignorant.

    Still... such idiots aside, it should be a good tournament. Both countries are promising to put on a good show. And England MUST be drawn in one of the easier groups. Surely?

  • Comment number 3.

    "There will be no offensive banners or flags allowed in the stadium. Outside the grounds I do not see there will be a problem. We know how to police these events."

    If that's the case then how come it so, so well documented and as the testimony shown above shows - its even against the home players by the home fans....sorry but this is one too far. Had this been Scotland or England we'd have been banned for years and years!

  • Comment number 4.

    #2: It won't matter what group England are drawn in. Everybody knows we'll scrape through the first round with some underwhelming performances, shoehorn Rooney back into the line-up and crash and burn against anything resembling a top team.

    Anyway, best of luck to Poland and Ukraine. I hope everything goes brilliantly for them, and I especially hope England draw Poland so Szczesny has to grow clown hair.

  • Comment number 5.

    Samba Ba's comments show that some fans are a little behind with the times; I hear they didn't even offer him a hand shake afterwards!

  • Comment number 6.

    5. At 10:34 2nd Dec 2011, Thrashball wrote:
    Samba Ba's comments show that some fans are a little behind with the times; I hear they didn't even offer him a hand shake afterwards!

    -----------------


    Ha...Very good :)

  • Comment number 7.

    Concerning the language issue:-
    Polish is very difficult but at least they use the Latin alphabet.
    Ukrainian is also very difficult and to make things worse they use the Cyrillic alphabet. Unless the Ukrainian authorities propose to use temporary signs in English (which most visiting fans will understand) I fear that there will be massive confusion. I visited Wroclaw & Kiev in the past year. At least in Kiev's bars and restaurants there are often menus in English while may young people understand English, but I doubt whether English is as well-understood in Kharkiv, Lviv and Donestsk. Good luck!

  • Comment number 8.

    @ 7 - If Ukraine is anything like Bulgaria in its attitude to Brits (as opposed to German's and Russian's - the Cold War legacy of only ever dealing with Germans and Russians (apparently Bulgaria was a place that West German's went to see their Eastern relatives) then it'll be a long 2-3 weeks for fans.

  • Comment number 9.

    Dan Roan shoud get his facts straight. The Independence Day riots in Warsaw in November were nothing to do with football hooligans, but fascists, anti-facists and anarchists at each other's throats.

  • Comment number 10.

    As someone who travels to Poland regularly and has watched a fair bit of football in one of the host cities (Poznan) I can tell you that fans travelling to Poland at least are in for a treat. It is a wonderful country and the stadiums in Poznan and Gdansk which I have seen match anything I have visited in this country.

  • Comment number 11.

    Former reketer Borys Kolesnikov has nothing common with delivering the first major sporting event in Ukraine. Ukraine get Euro-2012 ONLY because of titanic efforts of Ukrainian Football Federation President Hrygory Surkis.

  • Comment number 12.

    The Independence Day riots in Warsaw in November were nothing to do with football hooligans, but fascists, anti-facists and anarchists at each other's throats.

    ------------------------------------------------------------

    Well there were literally hundreds of them wearing different football colours as well, the footage was shown again on tv just last night. I've been to Poland and enjoyed it, but there's a definite hooligan problem there.

  • Comment number 13.

    this neck of the woods is as rough as a badgers behind

    however, in the name of equality, no place on earth can grow untill we sprinkle the shower drops of love.

    economic prospoerity here they come

  • Comment number 14.

    Biggest nightmare fans will have is the signs, at least in other european countries you can attempt to say the name of places. But when I was in Romania you couldn't even attempt as there were triangles and backwards E's etc.

    Also the amount of stray dogs is a worry (10,000s in Bucharest) and i hope they do something about it even if people have a moan!!!

  • Comment number 15.

    It just goes to show that FIFA do not clamp down on racism hard enough.

    Blatter is an idiot and should be removed with immediate effect, although we all know it won't happen.

    The worst part is that it doesn't sound like it is a minority who are inherently racist.

    I think it's an awful decision to hold Euro 2012 in countries who, from a social conduct perspective, are ill equipped to handle such a major tournament.

    I hope I am wrong.

  • Comment number 16.

    We all follow United, I LIVE in Poland. There are problems at club level but not at international level, the idiots are kept away. It's just the media trying to scare folks like they did in the build up to South Africa World Cup last year.

    As for the Nov 11 riots, it had NOTHING to do with football. http://www.thenews.pl/1/9/Artykul/58380,Independence-Day-marches-turn-violent-in-Warsaw-as-it-happened

  • Comment number 17.

    @14 "But when I was in Romania you couldn't even attempt as there were triangles and backwards E's etc."
    ____________________________________________________________________

    Are you sure you mean Romania? Romanian comes from Latin (hence the name of the country) and they use the Latin alphabet.

    Cyrillic signs are only hard if you don't bother to learn the alphabet before you go. Just take a card with you with the alphabet on it and you'll be fine. A lot of it is the same anyway, just a few that you'll need to learn, plus that B is a V, C is an S etc.

    Stop freaking out about language it's not that important for having a good time!

  • Comment number 18.

    Having lived in Odessa, Ukraine for six years, I believe the supporters who make the trip will be delighted with what they see and experience. The general view of people who have not been here before is one of a bleak and desolate country. How wrong can this impression be. Just wait and see what a pleasant surprise is in store for them !! Already I can hear many of them say as per Sylvester Stallone,s memorable words " I shall return !! ". John Harris

  • Comment number 19.

    14.At 11:56 2nd Dec 2011, wirral18 wrote:
    Also the amount of stray dogs is a worry (10,000s in Bucharest) and i hope they do something about it even if people have a moan!!!
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Inhumane slaughter? I'm not sure that's the correct method to deal with this problem, although it's the quickest way.

    Personally I won't be going to Poland or Ukraine. I'm of an old fashioned view, you select the best country with the best facilities to host a tournament, rather than use football to boost a struggling country's tourism and economy for the sake of football politics.

  • Comment number 20.

    The concerns for the Ukraine were that its stadia and infrasturcutre will not be complete. Stadiums are on time, airport terminal on track. Roads and rail nowhere near being complete and won't be ready on time. Given the size of the country getting around will be a nightmare.

    As for the racism, the authorities can barely control them for local games so not convinced they will do much better for the tournament, especially if either co-host is eliminated by a team with black players.

  • Comment number 21.

    I hate to say this but I hope it's a disaster with violence, racism and both countries infrastructure unable to cope with the influx of fans. Questions will then be raised over Russia's ability to host the 2018 World Cup. Or maybe it's just me being bitter about FIFA's snub of England for the world cup.

  • Comment number 22.

    Seems a bit sad that Poland are waiting until now to do something about the seemingly high volume of racism they have in the stands.

    Obviously, at a major tournament it is a good stepping stone to eradicate this sort of behaviour, but 'There will be no offensive banners or flags allowed in the stadium' makes me wonder why this wasn't already the case?

    We are by no means perfect, but we are leagues (pardon the pun) ahead of a lot of countries - I truly hope it doesn't ruin the spectacle P&U have prepared for us.

  • Comment number 23.

    #21 Honestly grow up. Its clearly bitterness and hubris on your part. Why anyone would wish 'violence and racism' to spoil a major event and generate victims is just beyond me. Clearly you have seen too little of life to know any better and not enough to acquire an education.

  • Comment number 24.

    One of the biggest problems for fans will be if we get landed in the Ukraine, and we have to move from one city to the other. News was saying last night how there is 750km between 2 cities allocated to one of the groups, and it's a 12hour train journey, on trains that rarely run on time. I know many trips will base themselves in one place, and just attend matches in that place, but worth considering.

    I'm afraid also that for fans with any colour in their skin at all, these may not be welcoming places, and you'd be well advised to stick with a group of fans.

    I hope that we're in Poland, not because racism is more or less prevalent there, but at least trips will be manageable, and Krakow would be a very pleasant base, even though there's no games there!

    Shame Ukraine aren't having games in Odessa, a Black Sea beach holiday would have been quite acceptable...

  • Comment number 25.

    More hype from the BBC and very poor journalism. The disorder, which took place at the November 11th 'Independence Day march (shown in this clip), had zero to do with football. This was a group of mainly German left wing activists, who were bused into Warsaw, fighting with a small number of right wing marchers. There were also a number of police being somewhat over enthusiastic in their attempts with containing the situation, but no football fans.

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    It will be an interesting tournament and I'm sure it will be run properly. There are bound to be problems off the pitch in various ways but I suspect that is the case in all major tournaments. I think it would be a bad thing if there were certain countries that were on a 'black list' and therefore unable to host such competitions.

    I do find it amazing though that when the English game was rife with racism, hooliganism and other off-field problems, our clubs were banned from European competition. Poland and Ukraine have exactly the same issues right now are given a major tournament to host. It doesn't quite add up, but then this is the conundrum that is UEFA/FIFA sadly.

    They'll be taking the world cup to Qatar in the searing heat of a middle-eastern summer next............

  • Comment number 28.

    @21.At 12:34 2nd Dec 2011, matthewj01 wrote:

    "I hate to say this but I hope it's a disaster with violence, racism and both countries infrastructure unable to cope with the influx of fans. Questions will then be raised over Russia's ability to host the 2018 World Cup. Or maybe it's just me being bitter about FIFA's snub of England for the world cup."

    That is indeed a bitter view, ass bitter as it gets. To wish violence and racism on anyone is deplorable and petty minded.

    I am so glad that England did not get the world cup because of people like you.

  • Comment number 29.

    We all follow United, I LIVE in Poland. There are problems at club level but not at international level, the idiots are kept away. It's just the media trying to scare folks like they did in the build up to South Africa World Cup last year.

    As for the Nov 11 riots, it had NOTHING to do with football.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I'm not say it did but from the footage I saw it appeared that there were different football colours on show on the middle of the riots. It seemed that, whilst not about football to start with, football thugs used the violence already there as an excuse to get stuck in.

    I hope it doesn't come to the fore during the tournament but there are sections of Polish football fans that would seem to love a good scrap with other fans.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/07/poland-football-hooligans-euro-2012

  • Comment number 30.

    matthewj01: That 'was' out of order. I was in Poland(Warsaw to be precise) for the 2009 Eurobasket and had a very good time there with no serious issues(other than paranoid coppers and stadium security on one occasion). Ukraine I can't vouch for.

  • Comment number 31.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 32.

    Sepp Blatter has advised that anyone of an ethnic minority wear a Caucasian suit (available from all good FIFA registered stockist) and do not do anything ethnic in public.

  • Comment number 33.

    The Independence Day riots in Warsaw were nothing whatsoever to do with football violence, although no doubt there were football fans involved and everything to do with Poles, Germans and other nationalities protesting against extreme right wing thugs marching on Poland's streets.

    These same extreme right wing groups had attacked gay rights marchers in Krakow before and the support from other countries was to ensure they were countered.

    Poland is a beautiful country, peopled by a warm and very hospitable population. Football hooliganism is a significant problem there but as in Italy, it tends to have connections with criminality. However these are a small minority of people and their aping of our hooligans, will not spoil a wonderful event.

    Those with little knowledge of Poland should be aware that Gdansk, Wroclaw, Krakow and Warsaw are beautiful cities and although Krakow is not hosting any matches,it is the base for the England (Hotel Stare, training at the Hutnik Stadium), Dutch and Italian sides. A visit to Oswieciem (Nazi death camp of Auschwitz/Birkenau to see what hate anti-semitism and intolerance can do, its why those in Warsaw marched against the right wingers), Wilieczka Salt Mine and the Tatra Mountains, in Zakopane, are all highly recommended.

  • Comment number 34.

    All you need is love

  • Comment number 35.

    29.At 13:14 2nd Dec 2011, We all follow United wrote:

    "from the footage I saw it appeared that there were different football colours on show on the middle of the riots"

    Watching the Tottenham riots that spread through England this year, I saw plenty of football tops being worn by the thugs. It does not mean that it is football related.

  • Comment number 36.

    Hi Guys, just wanted to add few points as having lived in Ukraine for a number of years, I think you may find them useful:
    First of all it makes me really ashamed seem some people here wishing disaster for the tournament as taking into consideration how much effort both countries put into this invent, I can’t imagine why someone would want to wish them that.
    There have been some concerns raised regarding rail network and long travels between cities, its actually not that bad, the train stations are quite good and comfi, bit overcrowded, but very lively, lots going on. The 12 hours journeys between cities are usually overnight, the tickets will cost 10/20 pounds the most, the trains are all got comfortable beds to sleep, but you usually ending up not sleeping at all as you finding yourself a company and drinking Vodka with your friends all night long, which will be great for fans.
    There are so many nice places to see in all host cities and it’s the best time of the year to go to Ukraine anyway in May – June.
    People are very friendly but police can be quite hush, they don’t tolerate any kind of disorder, for any minor misconduct you may end up in police station.
    And don’t forget, this is the place where bars, clubs and other amusements are ridiculously cheap, not to mentioned about women – they are beautiful.
    My advice – don’t hesitate and go, you will have unforgettable fun!!!

  • Comment number 37.

    The only saving grace for this tournament is that all the major European football powerhouses have managed to qualify. Other than that, I'm expecting a bad show both on and off the pitch. I'd love to be proved wrong...

    The racism and football violence issues in Poland have been taken far too lightly by UEFA. Only a month ago there were violent clashes with riot police, tear gas and all the rest, due solely to football. What exactly do UEFA expect to happen when Poland are inevitably knocked out at the group stage?

    The transport system in Ukraine looks as though it has received no investment whatsoever since they were announced as hosts. Where has all the money been spent? UEFA have now stated that there will be just 5,000 tickets for fans of each team in the knockout rounds as a result of poor transport infrastructure? That's some festival of football they've got planned... for Poland and Ukraine to attend only. That is an absolute shambles and will hit UEFA's pockets hard as well as piling even more debt on Ukraine and Poland - there is no profit to be made from this tournament, trust me.

    My biggest worry is that England fans will get caught up in violent clashes and with both Poland and Ukraine on our World Cup 2014 qualifying campaign too, this does not bode well for the future.

    I'm sorry, but politics, rights and expanding football all put aside, Ukraine and Poland should not be hosting this tournament. UEFA should not be praised for standing by the proposed hosts, they should be ashamed of not having the strength and commitment to remove it from them when it is so pain stakingly obvious that they are not ready.

  • Comment number 38.

    Hi all, I am Polish and I live in one of the host cities (Wrocław). I find your comments really interesting, but I just have to clarify a few things.

    First of all - you don't have to worry about hooligans, racism or crime when you visit Poland (or Ukraine). As you know, media have to show the most interesting stuff - you won't see tourist visting Wrocław, Kraków or Gdańsk (I won't mention Warsaw - there is nothing to see there ;)), but you'll see Independence Day riots (200 people were arrested - 92 of them were German anarchists (interesting, isn't it?), in the same time about 20000 people were celebrating, but no television showed it, because the Independence Day March itself was boring) or hear about provincial racist incident from 3 years ago (i think your hooligan problems some time ago were worse). We ain't the 3rd world country, people don't get killed on the streets and ain't robbed every day. OK, we have some infrastructure issues (mainly roads and railroad), but you still don't have to own a SUV to travel between our cities.

    Second - don't believe the media. If we would, Poles should think of British as of a country of young, druken, agressive men running around naked and demolishing restaurants (yep, we had a problem with your bachelor parties in Kraków).

    Go ahead, jump into the plane and visit Poland (a lot of cheap flights are available because of our immigrants in UK - well could you blame them, as a waiter you earn 4 times more than in Poland).

    Few more things to clarify - we do have broadband internet access, there are no polar bears around and we have better public health service than you :)

    Best wishes from Wrocław.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 39.

    .
    Surely it must be England's turn to win !!

    What goes round, comes round !! In European Cup Finals, England just can't seem to get it right; they're getting there but as usual stumbling (twice in semi finals) just as we expect them to up the tempo and grab the spoils. . . Nooo.. !!

    What seems to be the problem ?? There had been quite competent players, albeit not exactly the Peles of this world, but good enough to nick the final for a change.

    Will it ever happen, please make it, just this once, I beg of you !!

  • Comment number 40.

    37. Chris
    "I'm sorry, but politics, rights and expanding football all put aside, Ukraine and Poland should not be hosting this tournament."

    Chris, you should not be writing on this forum, with such a negativety. You don’t have to go mate, nobody drugs you there. Whoever will go, will enjoy it there. And what kind of violent clashes you talking about!!! Grow up mate

  • Comment number 41.

    37.At 14:02 2nd Dec 2011, Chris wrote:

    "UEFA should not be praised for standing by the proposed hosts, they should be ashamed of not having the strength and commitment to remove it from them when it is so pain stakingly obvious that they are not ready."

    So you would have been happy for England to loose the Euro96 finals after the Lansdowne Road football riot? Or is it just "Johnny Foreigner” that you don’t like?

  • Comment number 42.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 43.

    Wouldn't it be interesting if the process of deciding who hosts the world cup or the euro like Eurovision, where the previous winner hosts the next tournament; although I don't support this it would be interesting.
    In theory, the country that hosts a major sporting tournament should be the nation with the best infrastructures, best stadiums, best citizens, high democracy, love for the sport etc. But who can deprive a nation (in this case two) the opportunity to develop and enjoy such a great event.
    I hope the tournament goes well; who ever wants racism and violence is an intolerant bigot.
    I hope England's group isn't: Spain, England, Croatia and France

  • Comment number 44.

    Many comments include racist remarks towards people in Eastern Europe and the amount of ignorance shown is staggering (the guy who mistakes Romania to Ukraine and claims that Romanians use Cyrillic alphabet is a clear winner in that category). Obviously, our perception of racism (by "us" I mean continental Europeans) greatly differs to that of people in the UK. I am sure that you would be able to cope with Eastern Europe much easier, had you made some effort in learning a foreign language. Most of the people in Eastern Europe speak at least two to a certain degree.

    As for the article itself, to be honest, I do not understand the need for such negativity ahead of the event, the style slightly reminds me of a completely different set of British media. Racism and violence are well known problems in Polish football and you didn't have to go all the way to Warsaw to find out about it, but then again the same can be said of Italian football (take your pick), Spanish supporters have thrown insults at English players last time around, and the British game itself is not quite free of violence (there was a murder at West Ham v Millwall game last season, right?) or racism (Old Firm). Knowing all that it sounds a bit arrogant and misleading to make that side of the story main topic in an article introducing Euro 2012.

    I do hope the tournament goes as planned and the organizers prove they could be successful, and I also hope not too many fans get lost in Ukrainian wilderness. With my local national team not being able to qualify for Euro 2012, it will be a worry-free experience for me. Hope for more attacking mentality the way Spain and Germany have shown in recent tournaments. Hope the Irish surprise many, while I can't quite see England reaching semis with Rooney banned for the first phase.

  • Comment number 45.

    If Uefa is man enough, they have to withdraw the right of staging the Euro finals 2012 from Ukraine, as long as Julia Timoschenko is in jail. Even Platini should shudder of shaking hands with an oldfashioned soviet dictator.

  • Comment number 46.

    Having visited Poland before I can say that is a really beautiful country with plenty of landmarks to take in if you are planning on making the trip.

    The one thing I do worry about though is the hooliganism that goes on in their domestic league. I think this may be a real problem for UEFA and the local authorities to keep on top of. Add to that 15 other sets of fans and you may have a real problem.

    http://footballalwayswins.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 47.

    Anyone that doesn't believe there is a huge problem with football violence in Poland is being naive. It is predominantly in the lower leagues that the violence is seen but you don't have to look far back to see it is very much existent with the Polish international fans. Before 2006 and 2008 they had friendly fights with Germany fans on the border. Many of them claimed 'this was preparation for when we meet her' referring to England. There has also been recent reports that these 'friendly fights have been taking place between fans of league teams'.

    I have recently experienced some form of violence from Polish football fans in England. 5 Skinhead Polish men, drinking polish beer on a train, being abusive to everyone on the train. At first they were very civil towards me as I told them I was a Charlton fan. They admired this as they said its good I support my local team, something they firmly believe in. They then proceeded to sing Polish football songs, and tell me how they travel to Poland 2 or 3 times a month to fight for their team, occasionaly they will watch the match! After that they then decided to pretty much abuse the whole train and then tell me that they will be waiting for me next year in Poland. 'We will get you, English fans we will get you'. To be honest I think they may be disappointed and may be waiting a while as I wont be travelling to Poland.
    They were also probably not banking on me being an off duty police officer so they may now find their journey a little tougher, one would hope!!

    Im not being small minded as I know this sort of behaviour happens with our own fans on a weekly basis, trust me ive seen it first hand many times. However what does worry me is that the Polish fans are extremely obssessed with the English football hooligan culture in the 80's. They are a home nation and its quite possible that when you have fanatic fans like theirs, and then invite the English and the likes of the Italians it could get very nasty!

  • Comment number 48.

    @44.At 15:03 2nd Dec 2011, ciossa wrote:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. There are so many parochial attitudes from so many insular, intolerant and blinkered people based on ignorance. The type of people who holiday in Spain and spend all their time in British bars eating fish n' chips.

    They should just man up, buy a phrase book and a guide book go out there and meet the people. They might just learn something. The change is there to experience a new culture, try different cuisine and visit new places but all these people can do is complain.

    I will correct you on one minor point. The problem the Old Firm experience is based on sectarianism and not racism.

  • Comment number 49.

    There are going to be no easy groups! England need to be drawn in a tough group so that the group isn't taken lightly as per usual. I can't wait for EURO 2012, especially if we get drawn with Ireland.

  • Comment number 50.

    @48.At 15:28 2nd Dec 2011, It wasnt me A big boy did it and ran away wrote:

    that should read:
    The "chance" is there to experience a new culture, try different cuisine and visit new places but all these people can do is complain.

  • Comment number 51.

    "The type of people who holiday in Spain and spend all their time in British bars eating fish n' chips."


    I have never understood why people do that.

  • Comment number 52.

    Poland is a great country and they are very capable of organising a good tournament.

    Stiwski

  • Comment number 53.

    I found the overall tone of this article rather patronising to be honest. There is no perfect host. Every country has social problems (including England), and I'm sure the vast majority of locals in Poland and Ukraine are perfectly rational and will offer a warm welcome to visiting fans.

    First and foremost, we should hope and instruct that our own fans give a good account of themselves (and subsequently the country) when over there. It is a constant source of embarrassment to hear reports of violent or disrespectful behaviour from English fans. And for goodness sake, this includes respecting opposing national anthems.

    As for matters on the pitch, I actually hope that we (England) get a tough group so that we go into the tournament playing down our chances. Anything more than the three mandatory games is a bonus.

  • Comment number 54.

    @47 Do it 4 bobby

    Most Polish Football violence is pre-planned but its not considered a big problem by the locals. It is by the Police and Football Authorities however.

    Football is not Polands National Sport, Volleyball is. The people who do like football are the skinheads and like you say are obsessed with the 80's English Football.

    I was in Poland last time England played there, the main trouble then was UK hooligans who pretended to be English Football fans. Tear Gas and Battons soon put a stop to it and I had a brilliant 4 days.

    Stiwski

  • Comment number 55.

    In terms of racism in Ukrainian Premier League, I have not heard of any incidents and there is a significant number of African players playing there. The only worry I have is if Ukraine will have to play Russia as fans from both sides don’t get on well together and usually ending up in nasty clashes. Otherwise it will be a great tournament with loads of fun. There won’t be any problems with UK fans over there as a majority of population in Ukraine / Poland speak English. I remember when England had to play Ukraine in the last World Cup qualifying, me and my mates went over to Donetsk, really enjoyed it. Went on the streets after the game, had loads of people coming over, buying us drinks and having a good time with us, really friendly lot 

  • Comment number 56.

    I'm partial to a giblet every once in a while.

  • Comment number 57.

    @54 Steveramsfan

    The fact it is not considered a big problem by the locals is very worrying. It almost insinuates that it's the 'norm' which indicates violence could very prevalent at 2012.
    I was also at the game you mentioned and I would agree that the majority of trouble came from the English fans. However the English Fans were most feared in the 80's and as you agree the Polish are obsessed with that era and culture. To the hardcore Polish Fans it is almost a challenge and an honour to go beyond what the English fans done in the 80's. I just fear that this could be a perfect opportunity for them. As the English fans were most feared in the 80's I believe the Polish have without a doubt taken that role.

    It wouldn't suprise me if the whole tournament goes by without incident ( I hope ) however on the other hand it wouldnt suprise me if it was plagued by violence.

    I agree that robust Policing would be the way forward!!!!

  • Comment number 58.

    @44

    I am fed up of people coming on here spouting anti-english sentiment. What an incredibly patronising and racist comment to make.

    To all the others who also condemn us Brits for believing it a travesty that a country with hooliganism and racism far far worse than England in the 80s need to hear how racist they sound.

    I will guarantee not a single one of you is of any form of minority group.

  • Comment number 59.

    @57. The locals just stay away from the games. I don't think they will be able to take the violence onto the Euro 2012 stage, the Police have tracked down a lot of the ringleaders in the last year.

    I would not say English Fans, the guy that I had words with was a Rugby League fan and only went to Austria and Poland for a fight. He didn't have a football ticket and didn't go to the ground!

    I thought the Police handled it well in Chorzow and the Police are still just as strong now. Some Polish police scare me :)

  • Comment number 60.

    @41 - the Lansdowne Road Riot was in the Republic of Ireland and was caused by self proclaimed neo-nazis. How many more times do the Republic of Ireland have to tell us they are not a part of the United Kingdom before people will stop labelling them as being such? Euro '96 was held in England. England is not Ireland.

    That said, I do take your point on board. England has had a very troubled history of violence and racism in football. However, I think you'll find that things had improved significantly by the time we were chosen to host Euro 1996. The same cannot be said about Poland and, indeed, Russia too.

    I have been to both Countries to watch European football. I admit it was one occasion with both, but those two single trips sit at the peak, by some distance, of the most appauling football experiences of my entire life. Even travelling away to Besiktas and Fenerbahce didn't come close. (This is over a period of about 14 years incidentally, I don't travel all over Europe watching football as regularly as this sounds).

    @40 - it sounds like you reside in a Country where the internet is censored as a simple google or youtube search will reveal dozens of examples of the kind of trouble I am worried about. As I have already said in this comment, I have travelled to Poland for an away football game. I have absolutely no intention of ever doing it again! No love nor money would drag me to Euro 2012.

  • Comment number 61.

    @58 The Polish are not racist, the Polish Football hooligans are a small minority. It is the same as the UK BNP being the only football fans in UK.

    The comments by 44 were not racist but in fact facts!!

    Polish Football hooliganism is not worse than England in the 80's and its not even on the same level. Money is what stopped UK Football violence, its now on the streets on a Friday Saturday night.

    Uk is much more violent than Poland.

  • Comment number 62.

    @57 - all Polish Police scare me :)

    To be honest if any trouble comes from English Fans I believe its highly likely it'll be down to over the top policing. I follow England abroad as often as I can and I often find that the Police are very hostile towards us and completely over the top. It shouldnt, but unfortuanately that attitude and hostility does often trigger a reaction from the English fans.

    The way we Police football in this country has drastically led to a decrease in football violence, I find it odd that its so different when our Teams and international team go abroad. From personal experience I believe that other fans see us as a target and the European Police are very quick to hit out at any fans, innocent or not. Mix that with a few genuine boozed up hooligans and a sense of injustice then its bound to get tasty!!

    Im hoping that football is the only winner in 2012, it kind of makes debating the topic irrelevant as only time will tell!

  • Comment number 63.

    @60, Chris
    Chris, there is no need to make any references for the place I reside as to your surprise you’ll find it’s UK. The same simple Google or youtube search will reveal dozens of examples of troubles during the games between English clubs on the grater scale. Was it 2 years ago when the Birmingham City fan was stabbed by Villa yobs after the game? Remember the old good say: Don’t throw the stones in the glass houses.

  • Comment number 64.

    "Uk is much more violent than Poland"

    What an absurd comment. The papers went mental here when some Millwall fans ripped up some West Ham seats a few years back. That is the single incident of violence i can remember at a football match in this country in 20 years!!

    It just doesn't happen. I was in Krakow for the derby between Wisla Krakow and someone (I forget there name). The home fans surrounded the pitch with away fans scarves and set them alight. The game continued with the scarves burning all round the stadium. Away fans were banned from each others grounds for the following game. Football tends to reflect society, Polish football fans are some of the worst. Says a lot in my opinion.

    I will add a caveat that Krakow is a beautiful city to visit, but as for their fans being non-violent??? Give me a break.

  • Comment number 65.

    It's very sad to read a lot of small mindedness and ignorance on here of eastern europe.
    Granted there are problems of racism towards people of African origin, this is largely due to ignorance of their culture and lack of interaction. Throughout history eastern europe has neither colonised or interacted with Africa, so in comparison to Western Europe they are about 50-100 years behind. Even in England there are still problems with racism and the number african / afro carribbean minorites is staggering in comparison to eastern europe.
    The only way to bring it forward is to give the countries a platform and bring new cultures, people there whilst educating them and bringing everyone together through a common goal, in this case football.
    Russia has held international events in the past such as Olympics and they were hardly a massive disaster.
    Some very bitter and ignorant people on here. Football is about bringing people together and opening it to different parts of the world. It would be boring if it was held in england, germany, france each time.

  • Comment number 66.

    ciossa: I have a German A Level and always make an effort to speak the local language when travelling abroad. HOwever Eastern European languages are particularly hard to learn.

  • Comment number 67.

    I didn't say Non-violent Football fans. I said they are a MINORITY as football is not Polands national sport.

    Polish football hooliganism seems more like organised fighting using a football ground as a venue and excuse to fight.

    The Polish Society is a lot less violent, I enjoy going out on Polish streets at night drinking. Can't say the same for a UK city.

  • Comment number 68.

    @64 - your account of the match with the scarves burning is remarkably similar to my experience with Polish football.

    I too can vouch for Krakow being a lovely, quaint place to visit. Not at all surprised that England have chosen that as their base, regardless of the potential distance they will have to travel for matches. In fact, the fact England were so adamant on staying in Krakow speaks volumes.

    There's no doubt in my mind that Poland and Ukraine are both perfectly nice places to visit. My experiences in both Countries was absolutely fine, when it wasn't match day. The problem is, this entire tournament is a matchday.

  • Comment number 69.

    Sorry Krakow is not nice and quaint. Its just the only city people in the UK have heard of. Krakow comes in at number 11 on my top 10.

    You are all talking club level. At International level the trouble if any, is cleared up very quickly. Poland played Germany in Gdansk a few weeks ago, I heard of no trouble at that game.

  • Comment number 70.

    @60.At 16:11 2nd Dec 2011, Chris wrote:

    "the Lansdowne Road Riot was in the Republic of Ireland"

    Given that I lived round the corner from Lansdowne road for over ten years, I do know where it is and I am fully aware that Ireland is an independent country (hence "The Republic” bit) and not a part of the UK.

    These articles cause such an overreaction. You would think the competition was being staged in a war zone by some of the comments.

  • Comment number 71.

    Granted there are problems of racism towards people of African origin,
    -------------

    The bigger problem in Poland/ Ukraine has been the endemic anti-semiticsm.

    I will correct you on one minor point. The problem the Old Firm experience is based on sectarianism and not racism.
    -----------------------------

    While it is based on a sectarian divide (that is structurally no longer there), it does contain racist elements. Google on 'The Famine Song' which was banned by UEFA and Strathclyde Police as an example of what some small minds do with their spare time.

  • Comment number 72.

    @ 70

    Instead of people drinking milk from sky sports, this is surely drip fed BBC propaganda milk.
    As #69 Pointed out, Poland v Germany was a major melting pot in Germany 2006, yet during thefriendlies couple weeks ago, there was very little trouble.
    I know for a fact in Russia, the authorities are taking video evidence of all disruptive fans at club level with the intention of banning them, locking them up, during the world cup to prevent any trouble.

  • Comment number 73.

    anti-semitism in Poland?

    I think you need to read a history book.

  • Comment number 74.

    Are you aware that because of this football 'fest' the Ukrainians are burning dogs alive in order to clear the streets and that there is a petition in existence to the Ukrainian President about this? No football game is worth one dog's life much less for it to be ended in this cruel way. The petition is a result of locals who have reported this.

  • Comment number 75.

    Can you suggest one that discusses it and doesn't avoid it?

  • Comment number 76.

    There's always been anti semitism though not to the levels that BBC or Dan Roan purport. Hardly pogroms and hangings in the streets.
    Likewise with the racism and chanting. It reminds me of UK in the 60s. Eusebio is an excellent voice of reason on these matters. He understands how people geographies and the impact on culture works.

  • Comment number 77.

    Going off on a tangent slightly but...I don't believe that co-hosts should both be given places at the tournament leaving just 14 places for everyone else. I think only one of them should get a free place and the other should have to qualify.

    On top of that, they both get put in the top seeds pot! I definitely don't agree with that.

    To continue my rant, the Euros will soon be moving to 24 teams. This seems to have slipped under the radar somewhat. Qualifying will become a formality for a number of teams and the achievement of qualifying for a major tournament will be devalued. My main problem with this though is how do you get down to a last 8 from 24 teams. Presumably it will be 6 groups of 4 so we'll have to start talking about things like 'the 2 best second place teams' which is always a bit of a farce.

    Seems to me like something which was working fine as it was is about to be made worse just so the authorities can squeeze a few more pounds out of it.

  • Comment number 78.

    All I have read on here are Bigotted views of Eastern Europe. Poland happens to be Central Europe however!

    The old Soviet East Europe is not racist, they have their fair share of BNP types as does the West.

    I'm not bothered if you people are too scared to travel to Poland to watch Euro 2012. I will be there and I will have a great time, with no worries for my safety. Unlike when I am in UK.

  • Comment number 79.

    Yes!!! England got the furthest from Krakow they could get.

    Another major international tournament where Rooney fails to score :)

  • Comment number 80.

    Another major international tournament where Rooney fails to score :)

    --------------------------------------------------------------------

    It'll be a bit hard for him to score considering he's suspended for potentially every England game.

  • Comment number 81.

    exactly

  • Comment number 82.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 83.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 84.

    the homophobic behaviour/beatings/killings in ukraine are still an issue even as at last month.

  • Comment number 85.

    exactly

    ------------------------------------

    And that's a good thing?

  • Comment number 86.

    @Levak

    "And don’t forget, this is the place where bars, clubs and other amusements are ridiculously cheap, not to mentioned about women – they are beautiful.
    My advice – don’t hesitate and go, you will have unforgettable fun!!!"

    Living since 7 years there and want to add on that the Ukrainian people are very friendly and hospitable. The only thing you have to care about are young people which are drunken and the police. Very often they try to charge you for no reason. If it comes to the girls. Most beautiful I have ever seen around the world but use your brain it is because the HIV rate is e.g. 16 times higher than in Germany . . . .

  • Comment number 87.

    Spoken to my friends in Kiev, got already 3 tickets for Sweeden - England game! Woohoooo, better book my flight now :)

  • Comment number 88.

  • Comment number 89.

    As someone who has seen a good chunk of the world (but certainly not Spain, Greece or any of those dull Med resorts!), comments on here have really made me think and notice what happens when the tables are turned ?

    Here's a couple of points:

    Have you actually bother to come to the country and not listen to propoganded media or stereotypes?

    When in England (yes eating fish and chips etc is bad abroad),eat the local food no matter how good or bad it is. Don't source out your own food (considering you can find any kind of food in this country) because that it not 'sampling the local cuisine' and is pretty insulting to us.

    Don't think and keep boasting that just because you have rules and customs in your country, they are going to apply here. Some rules maybe very different and you have to respect and follow them with no arguments!

    Learn some culture here. Why we have great music, our museums, our monuments and attractions, our sense of humour, our gardening, our literature. I could go on.

    Bringing up England's hooligan past rather than defending your own, is just proof that your trying to mask the situation because you have no defence and is proving that you have got problems.

    Plus I seem to notice why there always seem to be a 'CCTV' intrusion into this country and press yet other nations have made remarks and those 'affected' choose to ignore them and only condemn the English. Its a bit like pick and choose history (which if England is involved, always show us in bad light despite the fact were 0.1% of the cause!). Didn't Franz Beckenbauer and the Hungarian FA offer to co-host the tournament if Ukraine didn't get a move on or Platini tell the Ukrainians to hurry up and send regular inspectors there??? I don't recall any of them getting picked and lambasted about that!

    Plus I seem to notice with London hosting the Olympics in 7 months, there are still criticisms going on from outside this country.
    From a FIFA member very vocal in his support for Paris and still making rude and insulting remarks about London getting the games.
    That an IOC member pressed a wrong button during a vote which laid it on for London to win.
    That Tony Blair was illegally meeting voters till the early hours.
    The food will be horrible so will undermine the games.
    The fact that the riots mean London shouldn't be hosting the games despite this had nothing to do with the Olympics, wasn't near the village and Security is tougher.
    That London wouldn't be ready yet we're allready hosting

  • Comment number 90.

    I've read a plenty of comments here and I'm really surprised that most of the people who post comments about Ukraine and Poland no nothing about both countries.
    Firstly I would like to say that there is NO racism in Ukrainian football! Just have a look at our clubs (Dynamo Kiev, Shakhtar, Metalist...) there are lots of black people playing there. And they are loved by fans just as much as their white teammates.

    Secondly, there are lot's of people from the UK living in Ukraine temporary. (English teachers for example) and they feel pretty fine living here.

    The country is really beautiful and there are many places to see in any Ukrainian or Polish host cities.

    Yes, I agree that the transport infrastructure is a bit old in Ukraine. Though there we'll be a brand new trains connecting all Ukrainian host cities and the old ones aren't so bad! A vast majority of young Ukrainians can speak English.

    And the last one... When I was on a stadium last time Ukrainian played Germany. Plenty of German fans were in the same sector with us. No fights at all. Moreover we spent a good time together and went for a beer after match together:)
    Please don't be afraid! Come to Ukraine! You're more than welcome! I promise, you'll never regret it!

    P.S. Sorry for possible mistakes and bad grammar.

  • Comment number 91.

    Hi
    I am Polish but I have lived in UK for over 7years now.
    All you have read about hooliganism in Poland is not really close to facts.
    The number of incidents at football games has significantly dropped comparing to previous years and it;s not a problem at all now.
    The problem for polish government ( so called liberal wing - in fact antidemocratic , prorussian one ) is that football supporters have opposed this goverment so their propaganda shows them as hooligans who come to the stadia to fight and cause riots which is completely untrue.
    Regarding racism I can assure you there is no more racism in Poland than in any other country in Europe.
    The problem in Poland is dirty politics ( abusing political oppositions ) corruption, transport, no decent motorways though this goverment promised everything would be fine for Euro.. It won't be.
    The cost of building the venues has been considerably higher then in any other western countries - question why?
    I have mixed emotions waiting for Euros - I'd love to be proud of the organisation but I am afraid I will be embarrased.
    Definitely what you can expect is great hospitality and frendliness of the locals, all the comments about racism and hooliganism is nothing to do with the truth.

  • Comment number 92.

    Euro-2012 co-hosts Poland and Ukraine will put up a tremendous show in every way. It's an opportunity for the hosts to display their capacities before a world audience. Playing well and reaching as far as possible would be a bonus. Wishing the host nations, the organizers, their teams and fans a memorable Euro 2012.


    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 93.

    The ignorance about Poland and Ukraine and its citizens on this thread is simply staggering, and quite sad. I hope that some of you will come over here next summer, enjoy the football party and re-assess your current point of view based on first hand experience, not what you see on tv or read in the papers.

 

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