Where east and west meet

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Artykuł pochodzi z pisma "Guardian"

Where east and west meet


Uefa's astonishingly bold move to award Euro 2012 to Poland-Ukraine means that, already, Michel Platini's presidency has its legacy, says Jonathan Wilson

Wednesday April 18, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

And they say there are no shocks in football any more. The decision to award the right to host Euro 2012 to Poland-Ukraine was jaw-droppingly unexpected, but it is none the less welcome for that. For the first time in 36 years, a major tournament will be held in eastern Europe and, frankly, it is about time.
For Michal Listkiewicz, the man who ran the line in the 1990 World Cup final and still uses a photograph of him shaking hands with Lothar Matthäus and Diego Maradona as his business card, this has been an extraordinary year. In February, he and the entire executive committee of the Polish football federation (PZPN) were suspended by the country's sports ministry over their supposed inability to deal with a match-fixing scandal that has now claimed over 70 arrests. Two months later, having been reinstated as president, he can appear on television looking like a cross between Steve Martin and Robert Kilroy-Silk, and weepingly thank Uefa on the behalf of "85 million Slavic people".
For Uefa, this is an astonishingly bold move. Poland-Ukraine will not be easy. To begin with, the scale is mind-boggling. This is a tournament that will take in two time-zones. To travel by train from Wroclaw, the westernmost host city, to Donetsk, the easternmost, takes 34 hours. Infrastructure, also, is less than perfect. The Olimpiyski in Kiev, which will host the final, will need only relatively minor renovations, construction of a 50,000-seater stadium in Donetsk is already under way, and progress is being made on grounds in Chorzow and Dnipropetrovsk, but there will have to be an entirely new stadium in Gdansk. The stadium in Warsaw, which will stage the opening ceremony, needs significant work. Hotel accommodation represents a major problem, with only Warsaw at the moment of the eight proposed host cities meeting Uefa criteria.
And yet, what an opportunity. What a statement about the direction Uefa will take under Michel Platini's presidency. He was elected largely thanks to the support of the east, and he responded by speaking of the need to encourage development in "mid-ranking" nations there. The first major decision of his presidency has emphatically done that. Suddenly the sinecures do not look so secure after all; perhaps European football is no longer a closed shop.
"There is no chance that Uefa, after three years of constant inspections, can reach the wrong decision as to who is the best-prepared and best-quality candidate," Vlatko Markovic, the president of the Croatian federation, said back in February, in the wake of the riots in Catania that left a policeman dead. "Neither the Italians, nor Poland and Ukraine have a moral right to be candidates. Especially not Italy. Who has the right to give their vote to Italy now? Our bid does not have the slightest stain. In our rival countries football crime has its renaissance."
The idea that football in Croatia and Hungary is without stain is laughable, but the point against Italy was well made. All five of the bidding countries have had their problems with corruption, hooliganism and overzealous policing - as Scots caught up in trouble after their Euro 2008 qualifier in Kiev will attest - so it became a matter of degree. Italy, after all, could hardly have done more in the past year to ensure it lost. Corruption? Check? Major hooligan problem? Check. Inadequate stadium infrastructure? Check. Police exposed as incapable and brutal? Check. If eastern Europe could not win in those circumstances, you began to wonder if it ever could.
As Leo Beenhakker, Poland's Dutch coach, said on Tuesday, "Poland-Ukraine deserves the trust of Europe". Croatia-Hungary could have said much the same, and the inquest in Zagreb will be intense - less so in Budapest, where the attitude was always slightly indifferent, which may, ultimately, have been what cost them.
There is a tendency in England to look back on Italia 90 as a halcyon time, but strip England's performances from it (not that they were anything special - the only team they beat in 90 minutes was Egypt) and you find a horrible tournament played out in half-empty arenas to the backdrop of violence. Italy's last hosting of the European Championship, in 1980, was even worse; remember Ray Clemence blaming teargas in his eyes for letting in a goal against Belgium? Giving Euro 2012 to Italy could have been a blueprint for the apocalypse.
As it is, the investment a major tournament will bring will go not to a country that largely wasted its last opportunity, but to a country in desperate need of it. Since before the end of Communism, Polish football has been blighted by cynicism, by a sense that whatever they did, it would fail. The way Beenhakker's side have been playing in qualifying for 2008 has begun to lift that, but it is nothing to what hosting Euro 2012 will do. This, finally, is confirmation that Polish football is taken seriously by the outside world.
The interesting thing in Ukraine is what effect the decision will have politically. Viktor Yushchenko's decision to suspend parliament and call fresh elections has been described in some quarters as a coup d'etat, but both he and his great rival Viktor Yanukovich ostentatiously backed the bid. Yushchenko was even in Cardiff to give a final boost to the bid, and he will portray it as a victory for his westward-looking policies.
This, after all, is acceptance. It is, finally, a recognition that Europe does not end in Vienna. It will be difficult, and there will certainly be frustrations ahead, but at the start of the enterprise, let us simply salute the sentiments that lie behind the decision. Since Platini hamfistedly tore open the envelope at 10.40 this morning, and raised a quizzical but seemingly delighted eyebrow, east and west have been a little bit closer. His presidency has its legacy already.

attest- poświadczać, świadczyć, zaświadczać
back- popierać
backdrop- kulisy, tło
bid- oferta
blight- niszczyć, mieć zgubny wpływ
blueprint- projekt, plan
coup d'etat- zamach stanu
easternmost- najdalej wysunięty na wschód
halcyon - błogi, cudowny
hamfistedly- niezdarnie
inquest- dochodzenie, badanie
jaw-droppingly- szokująco, zadziwiająco
legacy- spadek, spuścizna
meet the criteria- spełniać kryteria
mind-boggling- niewyobrażalny, zadziwiający
on the behalf of- w czyimś imieniu
overzealous- nadgorliwy
quizzical- zagadkowy
recognition- uznanie
reinstate- przywracać
salute- honorować
sinecure- synekura
stain- skaza
strip- odzierać, pozbawiać
suspend- zawieszać
tear (tore, torn) open- rozdzierać
westernmost- najdalej wysunięty na zachód


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