Ukraine spends $10b for Euro 2012: Envoy
Ukraine, one of the co-hosts of the 14th Euro 2012 soccer championship, has made every preparation for Europe’s biggest sports extravaganza, says Ukraine’s new ambassador to Indonesia.
“We have made good preparations for Euro 2012. It’s an historic event in our country’s sporting history as it is the first time Ukraine has hosted such a big event,” Ambassador Volodymyr Pakhil told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.
Europe’s top 16 soccer nations will fight for Europe’s most prestigious soccer title during the championship, which will be held from June 8 to July 1 simultaneously in Poland and Ukraine.
“The matches will be held in the Ukrainian cities of Kiev, Donetsk, Lviv and Kharkiv. The quarterfinal and final will be held at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev,” Pakhil said.
The opening match will kick off at the National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland on Friday night. The final match will be held at Kiev’s 60,000-seat Olympic Stadium on July 1.
When asked about the cost of hosting Euro 2012, Pakhil said Ukraine had modernized the venues and developed infrastructure by spending billions of dollars in the four cities.
“We have spent US$10 billion on preparations for Euro 2012, including building stadiums, upgrading infrastructure and other facilities, during the last four years. It’s a huge amount,” Pakhil said.
“We are also expecting that around 1 million soccer fans from all over the world will visit Ukraine to watch Euro 2012,” Pakhil said.
Apparently, soccer is not at all affected by the ongoing financial crisis in most European countries. Around 12 million people registered to buy 1.4 million tickets to watch the matches, a record number compared to Euro 2008.
Commenting on reports about racism during Euro 2012 in Ukraine, Pakhil strongly rejected the media speculation.
“We don’t have any problem relating to racism in Ukraine. We live in harmony in our country. Our people are friendly and ready to welcome people of all races for the soccer fiesta,” Pakhil said.
The new ambassador was amazed to discover the popularity of Ukraine’s legendary player Andriy Shevchenko.
“I am very much surprised to see how most Indonesians know about Shevchenko. When I met Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa he spoke to me about Shevchenko’s association with English soccer team Chelsea,” Pakhil.
The Ukrainian Embassy’s first secretary, Oleksandr Bondarenko, also echoed a similar view.
“Indonesians, like Ukrainians, are great fans of soccer. Everybody who I have met in Indonesia knows Shevchenko. They have been watching him play since he was at AC Milan,” Bondarenko said.
According to an estimate, around 80 million Indonesians are expected to watch Euro 2012 matches on local TV channel RCTI over the next 24 days at their homes, cafes, hotels, restaurants, bars, pubs, movie theaters and neighborhoods.
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