interview

Vitaliy Klitschko: EURO 2012 spending seems far too high

30.01.2012 | By Ihor Levenstein

WBC Heavyweight Champion turned Ukrainian politician Vitaliy Klitschko spoke with KW about his assessment of the countrys readiness for EURO 2012, how close the issue of volunteers is to him and whom he will cheer for at the championship besides Ukraine

KW: What is your assessment of the readiness of Ukraine and Kyiv in particular for EURO 2012?

V.K.: I take EURO 2012 not as a fan, rather as a citizen of Ukraine and a resident of Kyiv. I participated in the historic meeting of the UEFA Executive Council in Cardiff, when Ukraine and Poland won the bid for organization of EURO 2012. By the way, I would like to emphasize that this success is primarily the merit of President of Football Federation of Ukraine Hryhoriy Surkis, regardless of peoples attitudes towards him at the moment. Hosting the European football championship is a chance for a country to assert oneself in Europe and a chance for improving life inside the country. I believe in Nelson Mandelas words that sports can change the world. We see that thanks to EURO 2012 new stadiums, airports, hotels and roads have appeared in Ukraine. The championship will take place over three weeks, but the infrastructure will remain for years to come. This is by all means a good thing.

PH: PHL


KW: Be that as it may, was everything done in the best way possible?

V.K.: Unfortunately, no. There are a number of questions about the process of preparation. For example, why did the cost of our stadiums built for EURO 2012 turn out to be higher than the cost of stadiums built in Europe? In fact, the cost is 1.5 times and sometimes even twice higher. The other question is why did companies that offered a very high cost of services for the construction of stadi3ums and other infrastructural objects for EURO 2012 often win the tenders? I believe a special commission must be set up after the championship for a thorough investigation into this matter. The officials that were directly responsible for the construction of these projects must explain why they cost so much for the country.

KW: If you became Kyiv mayor, would you change anything in preparation of the city for EURO 2012?

V.K.: I would definitely not allow abuse, in particular, in terms of allotment of land plots. I would make greater efforts to resolve the citys most urgent problems due to which Kyiv is lagging behind European capitals in terms of level of comfort.

KW: You are an official friend of EURO 2012. In this capacity you concentrated on training volunteers. Why were you so attracted to this initiative?

V.K.: I had the opportunity to see for myself the importance of volunteer work. For example, at the World Cup 2006, a steward-volunteer helped me to get to the stadium in Dusseldorf through a special entrance for honorary guests. I drove to the wrong place and if it werent for the volunteer who immediately called the police to open the entrance for me I would have had to walk around the entire stadium. But that is not what matters. There are 20 fields of work in the volunteer project of EURO 2012. This is a chance for many people to get involved in the tournament and work to improve Ukraines image. I am convinced that for during EURO 2012 every Ukrainian must become a volunteer of the championship to ensure that it hosts guests in the best way possible so that they return to their native countries with the most pleasant impressions.

KW: Did you attend the matches of the EURO 2008 in Austria and Switzerland?

V.K.: No, I was not able to go to EURO 2008. I watched the most interesting matches on TV. But during the World Cup 2006 in Germany I attended many of the matches. I cheered for Ukraine in all of its matches. I attended the opening match, the semifinals and the final match between Italy and France in Berlin. The atmosphere in a stadium is something special that cannot be felt watching matches on TV.

KW: What matches do you plan to attend during EURO 2012?

V.K.: I already bought tickets for the semifinals and the final match. As for the group tournament, I havent decided yet, but I will definitely go to see all matches that Ukraine will play in. I will also try to be at the matches of Germany. As you know, I spent a better part of my professional career in Germany, which is why it is my second favorite team. I personally know many German players. Besides, the matches of Germany in the group stage will take place in Ukraine. I would be elated if Ukraine and Germany kick off against one another in the final match of the championship. I think millions of Ukrainian fans would want the same

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