The announcement, by UEFA president Michel Platini in Cardiff earlier today, came as a minor surprise: most pundits had expected Italy to be awarded the tournament, while the third bid in the voting, Croatia/Hungary, also had its supporters. UEFA overlooked favorites Italy, whose bid was overshadowed by last season’s referee corruption scandal and their on-going problems with football-related crowd trouble. The decision was taken by 12 members of UEFA’s executive committee meeting. Poland and Ukraine won of voting with eight of the 12 votes, four went to Italy and none to Croatia and Hungary.
Poland and Ukraine had staged an impressive presentation yesterday with Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko, Liverpool keeper Jerzy Dudek, world heavyweight boxing champions Vitali Klitschko, former pole vault Olympic champion Sergei Bubka and Ukraine president Victor Yushchenko all making appearances. The victory for Poland and Ukraine signifies the first step in new UEFA president Michel Platini's plan to spread the benefits of football throughout Europe and not just the big nations. It is even more surprising as there has been a match-fixing scandal in Poland, whose government was also warned by FIFA and UEFA about political interference in the Polish FA. Four Ukrainian cities and six Polish venues have been lined up as host cities for 2012. The four Ukrainian venues are Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Kiev and Lviv while Gdansk, Krakow, Poznan, Warsaw, Wroclaw, Chorzow have been earmarked for games in Poland.
The tournament will feature 16 teams after European football officials decided Tuesday against extending the number to 24 finalists in 2012. That decision will make the organization of the 2012 tournament easier for Poland and Ukraine. Euro 2008 takes place in Switzerland and Austria.