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Poland and Ukraine escape with a telling off

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Mihir Bose | 16:34 UK time, Friday, 26 September 2008

The only surprising thing about the much-anticipated Uefa executive meeting in Bordeaux was that the press was kept waiting. Still there are worse places to hang around than the grand surroundings of the Regents Hotel in the Place de la Comedie.

A press conference meant to start at 1215 French time did not begin until 1445, leading to much speculation that contrary to expectations, Uefa might have decided to move Euro 2012 from Poland and Ukraine, after all.

But in the end, the briefings proved accurate. As predicted on this blog yesterday Ukraine and Poland were given a bit of a telling off, not even a yellow card.

It could be argued that Uefa has threatened the two countries with a possible red card in the future.

It said: "Host countries must continue to make the necessary efforts as any slackening could put in doubt the organisation of this tournament in these countries.'

But actually Uefa is unlikely to ever wave this red card. While giving a warning to Ukraine and Poland, it also "reconfirms Uefa's commitment to organize the European Championship in 2012 in Poland and the Ukraine.'

Michel Platini

In the overall scale of potential tournament removals, I would say that the two Eastern European countries losing the Euros is less likely than South Africa losing the 2010 World Cup. And they are not as close as Athens was to losing the 2004 Olympics, when the then IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch waved his famous yellow card for Athens tardy progress.

What is likely to happen is that Uefa may cut down the number of cities that will host the games and be very severe on the state and quality of the stadia. Central to its plans is that the two capital cities, Kiev and Warsaw, must host games.

Of course, Uefa is hoping that both the Polish and the Ukraine governments support the tournament and fulfil their commitments.

What they don't say, but fear, is that while Poland looks dependable, Ukraine does not. Uefa's unspoken fear is that Ukraine will fail to deliver and that event may force Uefa to reconsider its commitment to hold the Euros in that country. But that still looks a very, very long shot.

In awarding tournaments to bidding cities sports governing bodies put themselves at the mercy of the governments charged with delivering their tournament.

Uefa will be hoping, just as the IOC and Fifa have in the past, that they are not let down, and will certainly be keeping a close on eye on the progress of Ukraine and Poland.


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