Lviv’s Euro 2012 Dream Still Alive
Lviv’s stuttering efforts to prepare the city prior to hosting games during the Euro 2012 football championships appeared to be back on track last month following the start of construction on the city’s new stadium and an encouraging visit from UEFA bosses. UEFA General Secretary David Taylor was in Lviv in early February on the last leg of a Ukrainian inspection tour which had seen him earlier visit Kyiv and Dnipropetrovsk, where Ukraine’s first completed Euro 1012 stadium was unveiled in late 2008. Lviv is currently well behind schedule in its preparationsand plans for 2012 have been dogged by persistent speculation that the city could lose its host status to rival host city Odesa, which along with Kharkiv is currently one of two Ukrainian cities on the UEFA reserve list for the championships. In addition to the new stadium complex and surrounding parkland zone, Lviv city officials hope to radically improve the city’s infrastructure ahead of Euro 2012, with a new airport terminal and expanded passenger capacity, Euro-gauge rail links to Warsaw and Dresden and a super highway connecting the city to the EU all part of ambitious plans. Ukraine won the right to co-host the 2012 tournament with Poland following a 2007 UEFA committee decision, beating a joint bid from Hungary and Croatia and the hot favourites, Italy. Many questioned the wisdom of hosting one of the world’s largest sporting events in two developing eastern European countries, but UEFA officials have stuck to their original choice despite delays and relentless media speculation over possible alternative host nations.