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Euro 2012 – Ukraine’s wasted opportunity? OSW Commentary 80, 2012-06.08

Matuszak, Slawomir and Olszanski, Tadeusz A. (2012) Euro 2012 – Ukraine’s wasted opportunity? OSW Commentary 80, 2012-06.08. [Policy Paper]

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    Ukraine saw hosting the European Football Championship as an important project in terms of image-building and modernisation from the very beginning. The country’s government assumed, during the presidency of Viktor Yushchenko and Viktor Yanukovych alike, that Euro 2012 would provide a major impulse for economic development and show that the young Ukrainian state was capable of successfully preparing one of the most important sport tournaments in the world. Although UEFA’s decision raised eyebrows both in the West and in Ukraine, after initial delays the work gained momentum and, shortly before the championship, Ukraine’s progress could be evaluated as being satisfactory at the least. As part of the preparations, four stadiums were built or modernised, four airports in the host cities were developed and 1,600 km of roads were repaired or built from the ground up. The investments have doubtlessly contributed to an improvement of the infrastructure in Ukraine, but it would be rather inaccurate to say that Euro 2012 has brought about a real modernisation of the country. The funds allocated for the preparations were relatively modest, and part of them was spent in a non-transparent way, which gives rise to suspicions of corruption. The chance to improve Ukraine’s perception in the West has been to a great extent lost due to the trial of the former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, who was sentenced to seven years in prison in October 2011. Over the past few weeks, Euro 2012 as a sports event has been overshadowed by discussions among Western politicians and in the Western media about rising authoritarian tendencies in Ukraine. In turn, football is currently treated as a minor issue in Ukraine’s internal politics. The government has so far not used Euro 2012 to improve its popularity although hosting it is supported by a clear majority of the Ukrainian public. It is still an open question as to whether the Ukrainian government will try to capitalise politically on this sports event; this is especially significant as parliamentary elections are approaching.

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    Item Type: Policy Paper
    Subjects for non-EU documents: Countries > Ukraine
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Series: Series > Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW) > OSW Commentary
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2014 14:42
    Number of Pages: 5
    Last Modified: 12 Dec 2014 14:42

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