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By ESPN Staff

Ukraine's Euro 2012 hopes boosted by delay to bidding

KIEV, Nov 9 (Reuters) - The president of the Ukrainian FA says UEFA's decision to delay awarding the 2012 European championship until next April has boosted the chances of his country's joint bid with Poland of hosting the event.

Hrihory Surkis, the president of the Ukrainian FA, told a news conference following a visit by UEFA officials: 'I believe that this fact boosts our chances of winning. We will make use of it.

'I have noted that my colleagues in UEFA are interested in developing soccer eastwards and this means precisely Poland and Ukraine.'

UEFA had been due to name the host of the championship in December, but has now delayed that decision until next April.

Ukraine-Poland's joint bid is one of three being considered by UEFA. The other two candidatures are a solo bid from Italy and a joint bid from Croatia-Hungary.

Officials in Warsaw and Kiev claim their chances have been enhanced by the Serie A match-fixing scandal in Italy and by political turmoil and large demonstrations jolting Hungary last month.

But troubles in Poland's soccer federation over match-fixing have also cast doubts over the bid -- as has construction of a major shopping and leisure centre next to Kiev's main stadium which international soccer officials say violates safety norms.

However UEFA official Mark Timmer praised the efforts of Ukrainian and Polish officials after conducting a seminar on safety issues this week.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmytro Tabachnyk told the news conference that efforts were being made to address the concerns over Kiev's 84,000-seat Olympic Stadium -- primarily the ability to get fans out of the facility safely at the of matches.

'We are aware that UEFA has made the exit of fans from the stadium as our top priority,' he said. 'I can tell you we are ready to present a package of means of solving this problem.'

President Viktor Yushchenko has expressed full backing for the joint bid and urged Kiev city authorities to take steps to ensure construction close to the stadium meets the concerns of soccer authorities.

If either the Ukraine-Poland or the Croatia-Hungary bid is successful it would be the third time the tournament has been co-hosted following the 2000 finals staged in Belgium and the Netherlands and the 2008 finals which are due to be held in Austria and Switzerland.

Italy previously staged the four-team European finals in 1968 and the eight-team event in 1980 as well as the World Cup finals in 1934 and 1990.

Since 1996 the European finals have comprised 16 countries.