There had been fears that the current political crisis in Ukraine, combined with a recent Polish match fixing scandal would hurt the two countries’ bid. But, instead, it seems that Italy’s problems with referee corruption, and the recent crowd trouble which resulted in the death of a policeman and forced the suspension of the Italian domestic season, was enough to see the Poland/Ukraine bid through.
As well as that, presentations by the Presidents of Poland and Ukraine undoubtedly helped to turn the tide against Italy:
“We thought the political situation could hamper our bid. There were such speculations circulating in UEFA’s corridors,” Volodymyr Lashkul, the vice president of the Ukrainian Football Federation, told Reuters. “But that didn’t happen. The two presidents who came to the presentation yesterday — Viktor Yushchenko and [Polish President] Lech Kaczynski — made a breakthrough in the situation.”
Just over half of the matches in the tournament will be played in Poland but, to compensate, Ukraine will host the final of Euro 2012 in the Kiev Olympic Stadium.
Neither country has hosted a European or World cup before (although Ukraine did host the 1980 Olympics’ football tournament), so there is a lot of work to be done. In Ukraine alone, six stadiums will need to be either renovated, or rebuilt from scratch in just four and a half years. A tall order, but one that I think Ukraine and Poland will meet.