Poland/Ukraine to host Euro 2012

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A joint bid from Poland and Ukraine has won the vote to stage the 2012 European Championships.

The vote was conducted by the Uefa executive committee at a meeting in Cardiff this morning and the winning eastern European bid triumphed ahead of rivals from Italy and another joint bid from Croatia and Hungary.

New Uefa president Michel Platini read out the result to a chorus of cheers from the Polish and Ukrainian delegation in the conference room.

Italy had been the overwhelming pre-vote favourites to host Euro 2012 but it seems the recent problems that surrounded the policing of a recent European match between Roma and Manchester United may have damaged public opinion towards the country.

Those difficulties came soon after a match-fixing scandal rocked Italian football last summer, leading to punishments for several of the biggest clubs in the country.

Then earlier this year, crowd trouble in the Sicilian derby between Palermo and Catania led to a policeman being killed – the upshot of which was that football was suspended in Italy and only resumed once stadium safety measures had been properly instituted.

The awarding of the European Championship finals to Poland and Ukraine is made all the more surprising by the fact that it was widely thought that Uefa was looking to move away from joint bids after the 2008 championships in Austria and Switzerland.

However, Fifa president Sepp Blatter had lent his support to the Poland/Ukraine bid, which may also have won them some friends within the Uefa delegation.

Speaking after the award of the tournament finals had been made, Polish Football Association chairman Michal Listkiewich said: "Dear friends and dear colleagues I can't express the emotions I am overcome with.

"We have committed our hearts and our efforts for three years to win this bid.

"We thank you for this fantastic chance which we have been given and the trust placed in us by awarding us this tournament."

Grigory Surkis, the Uefa delegate from Ukraine, also thanked the committee and its members and hailed the tournament as "a chance for us to realise ourselves as an independent state".

"Independent Ukraine was born to us 15 years ago but finally in this moment we have a chance to present ourselves to the world," he said.

"It is a new challenge and brings new emotions and new impetus'. I am grateful for those who gave their efforts to ourselves and Poland to win this bid and I am grateful to my colleagues for their trust in me. We will do it.

"Finally the great European football tournament is going to the east of Europe to the Slavic people who have had no chance to improve our football.

"This big tournament will be a milestone in the common history of two of Europe's largest countries, Ukraine and Poland."

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