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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec 2, 2011

UEFA chief had Ukraine fears

UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino has admitted there were times when he wondered whether Ukraine would prove itself fit to host Euro 2012.

• Euro 2012 draw: LIVE

"We always believed everything would work and you can see the enthusiasm of the people in Poland and Ukraine,'' he said. "But there were some moments when we thought 'ooh la la, how can this work?'.''

The key meeting turned out to be in Bordeaux, just over three years ago, when UEFA emerged to restate their confidence that the tournament could go ahead as planned.

"That was very important,'' said Infantino. "It was crucial to the whole thing. We have had a few hot moments since but we had some tough discussions and have come together to create history.''

It represents a personal triumph for Ukraine Football Federation president Grigoriy Surkis, who staked so much of his reputation on ensuring the pledge made to UEFA when they confirmed hosting rights in 2007.

"To some people it seemed like an unachievable dream,'' said Surkis. "In the old Soviet Union, we had five-year plans. This was one and a half. We had to create an infrastructure, for airport terminals, runways and roads. We had to try and bring European living standards to the Ukraine.

"If we did not deliver, we knew what it would mean in terms of importance, reputation and image,'' he said.

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