Hot on the heels of the FIFA fiasco involving Sepp Blatter being chosen once more over his erstwhile rivals--it appears corruption allegations did little but eliminate erstwhile challengers to his authority--we have yet another episode on the immediate horizon. With the World Cup done and dusted, the next major international football tournament here in Europe will be Euro 2012 which various national teams are busy trying to qualify for at the moment. But alas, while those teams should be in fighting condition for next year, the same may not necessarily hold for co-host country Ukraine (the other being Poland). You see, some of its facilities are behind schedule and construction has been hampered by faulty bidding processes.
It may be the case that Ukraine is going for the double--bidding irregularities to host the event as well as faulty contracting. From the Evening Standard:
An investigation by this newspaper has uncovered claims of murky construction deals and backhanders in Ukraine - which will co-host the tournament with Poland - that have sent costs spiralling. Among the projects that have raised suspicions are the 10 wooden benches bought for £44,000 and the £6 million heliport for players built 150 miles from the nearest stadium.Yulia Tymoshenko--she of the famously otherworldly hairdo--has been at the forefront of the allegations:
The Olimpiyski stadium in Kiev, intended to take centre-stage, is still only half built. Although scheduled to have already staged a game, its first match is now planned for November, little more than eight months before the final. The stadium, however, is likely to be the least of Uefa's worries if corruption allegations made by opposition politicians are substantiated. Claims that votes for the winning bid - fronted by sports stars including former Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko - were bought resulted in a defamation case that still continues.
Yet Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister, claims the worst has yet to be uncovered. "When our government was in office we had an estimate that the cost (of the stadium in Kiev) would be £160 million. Now it has moved to £380 million." The total bill for hosting the tournament, including infrastructure improvements, is expected to reach £8.5 billion.This story still has room to run.
At the heart of allegations by Ms Tymoshenko and the opposition is a claim that projects have not been put out to tender properly. The European Commission has criticised planned changes to a law that would narrow further the publication of tender documents.
Opposition sports minister Ostap Semerak says the overspend is a result of this. He gives examples such as the purchase of the wooden benches from a sewer manhole manufacturer and the heliport, apparently in a hunting spot favoured by the ruling class. The price of a new stadium in Lviv, meanwhile, has more than doubled from £84 million to £183 million.,,
Ukraine's president, Viktor Yanukovich, elected a year ago, has conceded corruption is a major issue in the country. Uefa president Michel Platini was quoted as saying it was "perhaps an error" to award the event to Ukraine. The quote was quickly dismissed as taken out of context. Yesterday Uefa stressed it was not involved in tenders launched by the Ukrainian government.