Accessibility links

Ukraine's President, PM Vie For Euro 2012 Credit


Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko smiles as she receives UEFA information at a news conference in Kyiv.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko smiles as she receives UEFA information at a news conference in Kyiv.

KYIV (Reuters) -- It could have been a moment of national triumph reuniting old rivals -- but the naming of four Ukrainian cities to host the Euro 2012 soccer tournament immediately reignited tensions between election foes.

President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, rivals in a January 17 presidential election, quickly pounced on today's announcement by European soccer's governing body UEFA to score political points off each other.

Tymoshenko was first to announce that UEFA had cleared Kyiv, Lviv, Donetsk, and Kharkiv to host matches in the 2012 championship and confirmed the capital as the venue for the final.

Her government and national soccer authorities had scraped together "every hryvnya, every kopeck" to find the cash to build the infrastructure needed to impress European soccer bosses, she said in a special television broadcast.

This, she said, had been in spite of a veto on funding by Yushchenko that had imposed "financial starvation" on Euro 2012.

"Today Ukraine won, the people of Ukraine won. I have no doubt that nobody will stop us on this wonderful course -- the development of Ukraine," she said.

Within minutes of her appearance, Yushchenko spoke out in the west of the country, also declaring "a great victory...fine, good news."

He thanked the deputy prime minister, the mayors of the four cities, and the National Bank for allocating funds for Euro 2012 -- but pointedly left out any mention of Tymoshenko.

A soccer stadium under construction in Lviv
Once allies brought together by a 2004 pro-Western revolution, the two are now bitter enemies and scarcely a day goes by without Yushchenko slating Tymoshenko.

He has accused her government of everything from using fears of a swine-flu epidemic to secure more money for the budget to striking a ruinous deal with Russia over natural-gas supplies.

Yushchenko, according to opinion polls, has only the slimmest of chances in next year's election.

Tymoshenko and former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych are seen as front-runners in the contest.

UEFA had delayed the decision over hosting matches in all the proposed Ukrainian cities except Kyiv because of slow progress in building infrastructure.

The Euro 2012 tournament is being co-hosted with Poland where four cities -- Poznan, Wroclaw, Warsaw, and Gdansk -- had already been confirmed by UEFA as venues.
XS
SM
MD
LG