February 16, 2010
February 7, 2010
AS REPUBLIC of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni heads to Warsaw today for the Euro 2012 Championship qualifying draw, scheduled to take place in the city’s Palace of Culture tomorrow morning, the blazers in Uefa must wish the veteran Italian was in a position to stay at home.
Three years ago, the joint bid by Poland and Ukraine to stage the tournament only just managed to scrape its way onto the shortlist put before members of the organisation’s Executive Committee for the second round of the selection process.
The eventual winners finished third behind Italy and Croatia/Hungary in the first round of voting but, crucially, one vote ahead of Turkey which kept them in the race. In the final round they crushed the world champions by eight votes to four with the others nowhere to be seen.
In his quieter moments, Michel Platini must wonder sometimes just what he and the rest of the Executive Committee were thinking. He can, at least, take some consolation from the fact that on the eve of the draw for the qualifiers it does actually seem certain that the tournament will take place in the two countries and that each is set to provide the four-match venues they initially committed to.
It hasn’t always looked so likely. At various stages, the Poles have been threatened with losing their share of the event because of political interference in their association and the Ukrainian end of things has looked set to sink into a sea of financial and organisational chaos.
Some 18 months ago the Scots made it clear that they would be prepared to step in should a fall-back plan be required but, somewhat hamstrung by the image he has cultivated as the champion of the underdog, Platini stuck to his guns with Uefa issuing a succession of deadlines, many of which the organisers failed to meet.
With just short of two and a half years to go before kick-off, however, the Poles do have stadiums (enough, in fact, for it to be suggested on more than one occasion that they might host the entire shebang) although they remain well short of where it had hoped they would be in terms of transport infrastructure and hotels.
The Ukrainians, meanwhile, continue to test the nerve of Platini and co with work continuing (a little sporadically) on two of their venues, Lvov and Kiev. Uefa has actually become directly involved in overseeing some of the work but Ukrainian tournament director Markiyan Lubkivskiy recently observed that ongoing funding problems mean that the “implementation of the (Lvov) project is in jeopardy”.
This, despite the fact that some €3.8 million in direct funding has been allocated by national and local government with related spending boosting the figure considerably. Already a couple of the venue cities have been changed and the renovation of Kiev’s massive Olympic Stadium has become mired in legal disputes with contractors.
The problems, of course, have been exacerbated by the economic downturn. In the good times a government can usually sell a major football tournament to sceptics amongst its population as a much needed overhaul of national infrastructure with some matches, watched by an awful lot of tourists, to celebrate all the openings. But when the coffers are empty, it’s all a little harder to defend.
In Poland, where the investment also runs into billions, the only upside of the downturn has been the return of many skilled construction workers from abroad, something that has averted the need to import a replacement labour force from elsewhere as the pace of work on road and rails projects is stepped up.
Uefa and Fifa like to talk about the legacy that these tournaments leave in countries where they have been staged and there is no doubt that the two countries will end up with some very fine stadiums. The Polish clubs that will inherit them, however, attract nothing like the crowds that will be required to make them pay and, once again, deals made with foreign operators at the height of the boom have the potential to become fairly contentious.
As it happens, the bidding process for the hosting of the 2016 tournament starts to get serious later this month when formal proposals have to be handed in for consideration. A final decision is then due to be taken in May and there will be no joint bids on the table this time around.
The expansion of the next tournament to 24 teams has also been a factor in shaping the line-up of would-be hosts and Ireland’s chances of qualifying for a tournament they have only participated in once previously, will improve very substantially when the enlargement takes effect.
In the meantime, though, Trapattoni faces much the same sort of challenge he did two years ago when Ireland were also third seeds for the World Cup qualifying campaign and ended up being drawn with Italy and Bulgaria.
During the veteran coach’s first two years in charge, the team’s performances and results have both been stabilised and having done well to reach the play-offs, Thierry Henry’s handball provided another hard luck story to soften the blow of elimination.
On Thursday, Marco Tardelli suggested he would fancy getting the French again but then thought better of it, insisting: “No, once it’s over, it’s over.” Still, there would be worse outcomes for Trapattoni and his men tomorrow than to be handed an early rematch with what is currently Raymond Domenech’s side.
The real pity of the last campaign is it did not yield enough ranking points to haul Ireland back into the second tier of nations and so, as well as a Spain, Germany or England, we will have to do battle with the likes of Greece, Sweden or Romania.
Five of tomorrow’s second seeds will be at the World Cup finals this summer and few even of the nine in Pot Two could be expected to mount quite as tame a challenge for qualification as Bulgaria did in Ireland’s group last time out. A little bad luck tomorrow and Trapattoni’s second campaign could prove a good deal more challenging than his first.
Having taken over in the wake of the chaotic end to Steve Staunton’s brief reign, the Italian restored composure by falling back upon a fairly rudimentary system. But the expectations of supporters may be a little higher this time and there is little to suggest that the team will be any better. The group is not old but a number of key players are getting older and the terrible lack of depth remains a major concern.
Platini said recently “there are considerable hoops to be jumped through” by the organisers of the 2012 tournament. And the fact is there will be some tricky ones to be negotiated too by Trapattoni and his players if Ireland are to make it to Poland and Ukraine.
The draw for Euro 2012 is live on RTÉ Two and on RTÉ.ie to users in the Republic of Ireland only.
Watch the draw here from as Peter Collins will be joined live in studio by analysts John Giles and Ronnie Whelan for reaction on Ireland’s qualification hopes.
Text commentary here is provided by Rory Houston.
11.59 That brings our text commentary to a close, we’ll have reaction to the draw throughout the day. Thanks for following.
11.53 When you look at Scotland and Northern Ireland, who were in our pot, Ireland can be very pleased with this outcome.
11.51 The draw for the UEFA European Championship 2012 qualifying draw is as follows:
Republic of Ireland
11.49 John Giles pleased with the draw. There is no glamour ties for the Republic with a lot of travelling to come.
11.48 Northern Ireland have been drawn with Italy, Serbia, Slovenia, Estonia and Faroe Islands.
11.47 Scotland drawn with Czechs and Spain. Ouch.
11.46 England drawn with Swiss, Bulgaria, Wales and Montenegro.
11.45 Netherlands in Group E
11.44 Russia, Slovakia, Republic of Ireland, FYR Macedonia, Armenia, Andorra.
11.43 RUSSIA DRAWN WITH REPUBLIC OF IRELAND IN GROUP B.
11.43 Germany out first for Group A.
11.44 The Czechs are last out for Pot 2 so we’ll start the all-important Pot 1 now.
11.43 Switzerland drawn with Wales.
11.42 Greece drawn in F.
11.42 Sweden in Group E.
11.41 Serbia drawn with Northern Ireland in Group C.
11.40 SLOVAKIA DRAWN IN GROUP B WITH REPUBLIC OF IRELAND.
11.39 Turkey in A.
11.38 Scotland in with Lithuania and Liechtenstein.
11.37 Wales in with Bulgaria and Montenegro.
11.37 Northern Ireland drawn in Group C, including the Faroe Islands.
11.36 REPUBLIC OF IRELAND DRAWN IN GROUP B WITH ARMENIA, MACEDONIA AND ANDORRA.
11.35 Austria draw Group A.
11.35 Here we go. Ireland set to be drawn.
11.34 Georgia in F. Sorry for missing some out, it is a very fast pace. Wales in a five-team group with Montenegro, Cyprus in the same with Iceland. No thanks.
11.33 Belarus join Group D.
11.31 Now we are onto Pot 4 so Ireland will be in the next pot. Beligum the first out in Group A to play Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. FYR Macedonia drawn in Group B with Armenia and Andorra.
11.30 Georgia in with Malta. We’re into the five team groups now so Montenegro on their own so far in G. Iceland on their own in H. Lichenstein are in Group I visit the site.
11.29 Albania drawn with Luxembourg, Estonia with Faroes and Moldova with San Marino.
11.28 Armenia are the first side out but they are now allowed play Azerbaijan for political reasons so they go into Group B.
11.28 That didn’t take long at all. We’re onto Pot 5 now, a reminder Ireland are in Pot 3.
11.27 San Marino in E, Malta in F.
11.27 Faroes in Group C and Luxembourg in Group D.
11.25 The Faroe Islands are in Pot 6, I’m sure Brian Kerr would love to draw his home nation. Azerbaijan in Group A, Andorra in Group B.
11.24 Pot 6 will lead determine the groups, here we go.
11.23 Now we’ll learn how the draw works. This will be handy!
11.21 The usual formalities are still going on, the hosts are taking us through the cities where games will be played.
11.15 There will be nine groups, six with six countries and three with five.
11.13 Andrey Shevchenko and Zbigniew Boniek will help conduct the draw.
11.12 Apparently Ireland drew France in the rehearsal yesterday.
11.10 The draw will start in a matter of minutes. Users in Ireland can watch the draw by clicking on the link above.
10.48 We’re about 20 minutes away from the start of the programe and the draw will not be too long after that. Here is Pot 2:
Greece, Czech Republic, Sweden, Switzerland, Serbia, Turkey, Denmark, Slovakia and Romania.
10.41 Looking at all the pots, there is no such thing as any easy group when you are not among the top seeds. There are some very tricky scenarios that the Republic could find themselves in.
10.40 Pot 1 is scary. We will draw one of these teams:
Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, England, Croatia, Portugal, France and Russia.
10.30 Phew, it is one busy day of sport but better concentrate on the draw now. The Republic are in Pot 3, along with the following teams:
Israel, Bulgaria, Finland, Norway, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Austria and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
That means we cannot draw any of those sides.
09.45 Welcome to our coverage of the Euro 2012 Qualifying draw.
October 21, 2008
Ukraine’s preparations for co-hosting Euro 2012 have suffered another setback after Austrian construction company Alpine BAU pulled out of a proposed revamp of the Ukraina Stadium in Lviv.
Ukraine is scheduled to co-host Euro 2012 with neighbour Poland, but preparations have so far been problematic and UEFA president Michel Platini recently warned the two countries they could still lose the tournament if stadia and infrastructure development projects fall behind schedule.
Alpine BAU won the contract to upgrade the Ukraina Stadium in February, but the company claimed on Thursday that the Lviv government had set unrealistic construction targets against a budget of 85million euros.
“We have a worldwide reputation in stadium construction and cannot accept a contract that we should build something for 40% less than what it will cost,” Alpine BAU spokesperson Karin Keglevych told PA Sport.
“We did the plan according to a contract with the Lviv government which specified a more luxurious stadium than UEFA requires. They asked for a lot of extra things.
“All the construction was organised and the government said it was a beautiful stadium (design). But they wanted all of the extras included in a price of 85million euros, which was also to include 20% VAT.
“It is not possible to build a stadium of a high luxury quality for this price.”
Keglevych admitted Alpine was “disappointed” to withdraw from working on the venue and refused to completely close the door on future co-operation with Lviv.
“We are open for other discussions, but we cannot discuss for the same level of quality if they do not want to pay for it,” she said.
“The Lviv government will get an invoice for our planning work and we hope they will pay.”
The Austrian firm has been involved in a number of high-profile stadium projects across Europe, including the Allianz Arena in Munich.
According to reports, Oleh Zasadnyi, head of the Lviv’s Euro 2012 preparations department, has claimed three construction companies have already come forward with offers to rebuild the Ukraina Stadium.
While speaking at a roundtable with representatives from Chinese corporations in Shanghai, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Ivan Vasiunyk has called for involving a greater number of investors and construction companies in Euro 2012 projects.
“Ukraine is interested in Chinese companies and investors entering its construction market. There should not be only construction companies. First and foremost, there should be construction and design technologies, reforms, investors and experience,” Vasiunyk said. The Chinese side said it is interested in Ukrainian projects and is ready to make its design and construction proposals.
By Lyubov Sorokina
LVIV, Ukraine, Oct 20 (Reuters) – Authorities in Ukraine’s western city of Lviv are looking for new builders after an Austrian firm pulled out of constructing a stadium for the Euro 2012 finals, an official said on Monday.
Austria’s Alpine Bau, one of the country’s largest building firms, last week said it could not complete the 30,000-seat stadium within budget constraints set by Lviv city officials.
The incident is the second involving construction of Ukrainian stadiums for the tournament after authorities had to change the general contractor for renovation of Kiev’s main stadium, due to host the Euro 2012 final.
After two visits to Ukraine by President Michel Platini, UEFA last month upheld the right of Ukraine to keep the tournament, co-hosted with Poland, subject to strict monitoring.
Oleh Zasadny, head of the Euro 2012 department at Lviv city council, said the council had rejected Alpine Bau’s new costs which exceeded the budgeted 85 million euros ($114.3 million).
“Lviv city council has therefore launched procedures to find a new contractor,” Zasadny told Reuters. “Talks are under way with companies from Italy, Croatia, Turkey, Germany and Spain and official proposals have been submitted.”
In Kiev, a senior Ukrainian soccer federation official said it was awaiting word on who would be awarded the contract.
“Lviv authorities still have not decided on a contractor who can tell terms on completing the project and present a detailed plan on its realisation,” Ivan Fedorenko, head of the federation’s Euro 2012 directorate, told Reuters.
Fedorenko said a decision had also still to be taken on renovating Lviv’s dilapidated airport — a key concern to European officials, along with hotels and other infrastructure.
He said city authorities were to report to UEFA next week on plans for the stadium and by mid-November on related projects.
Alpine Bau spokesman Karen Keglevich said the company found itself unable to meet the demands of local authorities. A threat of sanctions against Poland was lifted after UEFA reached an agreement with the Warsaw government to remove a government-appointed administrator for soccer and agree to hold new elections for the national federation.
UEFA were not immediately available for comment. (additional reporting by Igor Nitsak in Kiev and Christian Gutlederer in Vienna; editing by Miles Evans)
October 17, 2008
By Eric Willemsen, Associated Press Writer
VIENNA, Austria — An Austrian construction company pulled out of a project to build a soccer stadium in Ukraine for the 2012 European Championship, further threatening the country’s rights to co-host the tournament.
UEFA declined to comment on the delay Thursday but referred to a statement it released in late September, saying that “any slackening could put in doubt the organization of this tournament in these countries.”
Austria-based Alpine backed out of the project last week after a financial dispute with the city of Lviv, where the stadium is to be built, company spokeswoman Karin Keglevich said.
Both Ukraine and co-host Poland have been warned multiple times by European soccer’s governing body to speed up preparations for Euro 2012. UEFA will decide in the first half of 2009 how many stadiums and cities will be used as venues.
According to Keglevich, another $54.5 million is needed to complete construction in Lviv, which includes a 30,000 capacity stadium, parking lots, a sports arena and infrastructure.
FIND MORE STORIES IN: Poland | Ukraine | Championship | Euro | Kiev | Lviv
Oleh Zasadnyi, the head of the Lviv’s Euro 2012 preparations department, said several construction companies have offered to build the stadium and that the city still has a good chance to be chosen by UEFA as a host venue.
“We absolutely can manage to meet the deadline,” Zasadnyi said. “We estimate our chances to be chosen as host city as very high, because Lviv is one of the main cities in Ukraine.”
Associated Press Writer Olga Bondaruk in Kiev, Ukraine, contributed to this report.
Source: The Associated Press
October 15, 2008
Kiev – Two Ukrainian cities still could be dropped from hosting Euro 2012 matches, a Ukraine football official said Tuesday. The cities Lviv and Dnipropetrovsk, two of the five Ukrainian cities tapped as game sites, will be replaced if local officials continue to prepare for events poorly, said Ivan Fedorenko from the Federation of Football of Ukraine (FFU), citing a letter sent the FFU by the continental body UEFA.
The UEFA in April 2007 made Poland and Ukraine co-hosts of the 2012 European football championship. The Ukrainian cities currently set to host games include the capital Kiev, Donetsk, Lviv, and Dnipropetrovsk browse around this web-site.
An alternate site to Lviv will be necessary if the west Ukrainian city fails to turn around currently stalled efforts to build a stadium from ground up, Fedorenko said.
Lviv’s city government recently sacked a general contractor for the project over cost differences, and faces lawsuits by local residents alleging the city has no right to the land where the stadium is to be built.
Dnipropetrovsk in contrast opened a brand new first class stadium in September, but its Soviet-era airport is nonetheless incapable of handling international flights carrying fans to games, Fedorenko said.
Lviv’s airport is somewhat better than Dnipropetrovsk’s, but its runways still need a complete overhaul to come up to UEFA standards, he said.
Two other Ukrainian cities, Kharkiv and Odessa, are possible replacements. City governments in both locations have advanced football infrastructure preparations, well beyond Lviv and Dnipropetrovsk.
The UEFA will in May 2009 make a final decision on which cities would hold Euro 2012 games, Fedorenko said.
Federenko’s report of the UEFA plans came one month after a visit by a UEFA delegation to Poland and Ukraine by UEFA head Michel Platini.
The former French footballing great gave his tentative approval to Ukrainian and Polish preparations for the tournament so far, but warned that if one country to do a better job getting ready to host its share of the competition, the UEFA could strip the other host nation of games.
Poland is rated ahead of Ukraine in transportation, communications and tourism infrastructure, while observers give Ukraine a lead in football stadiums and sports training facilities.
A weak point in both countries is insufficient hotel rooms, particularly outside the capitals Warsaw and Kiev.
Ukraine must also bring its transportation network to European standards – a task estimated by the Ukrainian government likely to cost five billion dollars for roads alone.
October 14, 2008
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