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EURO 2012 Poland & UKRAINE

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UEFA awards Euro 2012 to Poland, Ukraine

Last Updated: Wednesday, April 18, 2007 | 9:39 AM ET

The Associated Press

Poland and Ukraine will co-host the 2012 European Championship.

UEFA, European soccer's governing body, overlooked the favourite Italy and a joint bid from Croatia and Hungary on Wednesday to award the continental championships to the former eastern bloc countries.

UEFA president Michel Platini announced the winner in Cardiff, Wales, after a private meeting of 12 members of the executive committee.

"It will be a milestone in the common history of two Slavic nations," Poland soccer federation president Michal Listkiewicz said.

Poland and Ukraine won the right to host the tournament in the first round of balloting, collecting eight votes to Italy's four. The Croatia-Hungary bid failed to win a single vote.

"Within five years we will build a new country and we won't have a better opportunity to do so," Ukraine soccer federation president Hrihoriy Surkis said.

Chelsea's Ukrainian striker, Andriy Shevchenko, and Liverpool's Polish goalkeeper, Jerzy Dudek, supported the bid at a presentation from the two former Communist countries.

Ukraine's ex-world heavyweight boxing champion, Vitali Klitschko, and former Olympic pole vault champion, Sergei Bubka, were in Cardiff for the vote, along with Ukraine President Victor Yushchenko & Poland's Lech Kaczynski.

"I'm happy they trusted us," Bubka said. "I don't see any problems, everything will be done in time. We need this and this decision will accelerate the development of infrastructure in our countries."

Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Kiev and Lviv in Ukraine and Gdansk, Krakow, Poznan, Warsaw, Wroclaw and Chorzow in Poland have been lined up as host cities for Euro 2012.

"It is a wonderful opportunity for Ukrainians and Poles to give soccer fans from around the world an extraordinary sporting event," said Yushchenko, who assisted with the final presentation Tuesday.

The bid by Poland and Ukraine had to overcome some problems.

Poland's national team just avoided suspension after FIFA said the federation had done little to stop corruption, and a match-fixing scandal in the domestic leagues led to about 70 people being arrested.

Concerns still remain about poor transport infrastructure and a shortage of high-quality hotels in both Poland and Ukraine.

Italy, which has hosted two European Championships and two World Cups, also had its campaign tainted by a series of off-field problems.

A widescale match-fixing scandal in Serie A last year was followed by the death of a policeman when soccer fans rioted in Catania.

"The scandal was an embarrassment for world soccer," Italian delegation member Luigi Riva said.

But Italy's sports minister, Giovanna Melandri, insisted these problems didn't cost her country the vote.

"It's a decision to enlarge the European football family," Melandri said.

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I think that it's important that this tournament is rotated. The Eastern European countries sure have contributed a lot to European and World Soccer, so I'm glad to see them given the tournament, even if it is at the expense of a more sound bid from Italy. This is their chance to benefit from this tournament the same way that Western Europe has time and time again.

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