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Mayor of Odesa addresses the FIFA President rowing UEFA Executive Committee’s Decision
May 19 2009, 10:34
ODESA, MAY, 19th, 2009, CONTEXT-PRICHERNOMORIE – 18 May, Mayor of Odesa, Eduard Gurvits, addressed FIFA President (Fédération Internationale de Football Association, Fr.), Joseph S. Blatter with a letter stating his principal discontent about UEFA’s decision on excluding Odesa out of the list of EURO 2012 host-cities, Context-Prichernomorie correspondent reports.
The agency was informed about it today, 19 May, at the Administration of Information at Odesa City Council.
According to the Administration, the letter in particular says: “Addressing you, as the most respected leader who devoted many years of his life to the noble task of promoting football and sport, I am forced to state that I do not understand and absolutely dissent the decision taken by the UEFA Executive Committee on May 13, 2009, by which the host cities for the final tournament of the European Football Championship 2012 were selected.
It would hardly be an exaggeration to say that since 2007 life in the city of Odesa was focused on preparing to EURO 2012. Into the wide range of practical issues, related to this process, common citizens, businessmen as well as city administration were involved. Following points are the steps done over a short period of time in a difficult economic situation and basically without any support from the central government:
1. Reconstruction of the central “Chornomorets” Stadium has begun. Both city and regional councils provided support to the owner and main investor of the stadium – FC “Chornomorets Odesa”. By now 15 % of the planned works are complete and all the works are proceeding in total compliance with the schedule. The stadium is to be completed in March 2011. The UEFA experts stated their satisfaction with the preparation process and rated the risk factor as “moderate”.
2. The International Odesa airport, being in municipal property, is currently considered to be the second airport in Ukraine by its importance. Though its improvement was planned and a strategic partner which provided all the necessary financial guarantees was defined. However, even without an investor the airport has enough of funds to proceed with an economy alternative of reconstruction. UEFA experts admitted the aforementioned alternative as acceptable.
3. Odesa is an absolute leader in Ukraine in terms of road construction being done during the last few years. The quality of Odesa road infrastructure, as well as transport potential of the city, meets European standards.
4. Odesa offered the best accommodation infrastructure for potential guests of the EURO 2012 too. We have the biggest room capacity in the hotels that already exist. In addition, there are a number of hotels under construction. Besides that, only in Odesa we have a possibility to meet a lack of luxury rooms (5 stars) by using cruise liners which can be accommodated in our sea port without any problems. The passenger terminal of the Odesa sea port is the biggest in Europe.
5. Two modern training grounds are completed and ready to operate. It is the supporting fact not to be found in any other Ukrainian proposed or reserve cities.
All the facts mentioned above are well known to the experts of UEFA, which was documented in the UEFA report of April 2009. In this report Odesa was placed as the second ready city after the capital of Ukraine.
The UEFA officials always publicly stated, and Mr. Michel Platini even assured me personally, that the decision of the UEFA Executive Committee concerning the host cities would be made solely on the basis of the evaluation reports prepared by the UEFA experts. Though in Bucharest the UEFA Executive Committee, disregarding the opinion of its own experts, have made the decision on exclusion of Odesa from the list of host cities, and moreover from the list of the reserve ones. This decision is a complete surprise and absolutely unacceptable by our side.
The decision itself and the procedure in the course of which it was taken testify that UEFA fount itself at the verge of a deep credibility gap. Unlike the issues of unfair judging and of the so called “fixed matches”, this situation requires immediate reaction and drastic solutions of systemic nature due to the fact that it involves the top officials of the Association and administrations of National football associations. Since long ago football is not anymore just a kind of sport, and the conflict arose may implicate hidden threats to the process of European integration. In official reports football is often called as a “piece ambassador”. This respected mission cannot give any room for ambiguity, to say nothing of suspicion in banal corruption.
Esteemed Mr. Blatter, I kindly ask you to take this stand into consideration and, if you feel that to be required, to take all the necessary steps in order to remedy the existing situation”.
Signed by Eduard Gurvits, the letters that feature Odesa’s arguments and positions considering the above-stated problem, were directed on address on 24 sister cities’ and partner cities’ municipalities, “EUROCITIES”, “Historical Cities League”, “European Local Solidarity Federation” International Organizations, diplomatic missions of UEFA member countries, Odesa Diaspora members all over the world.
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