Euro 2012 in Ukraine – the final analysis

Fireworks erupt above Kiev’s Olympiyskiy (Olympic) Stadium to conclude the 2012 European Football Championship – Photo By GLEB GARANICH/REUTERS

THE sport and, of course, the party that was Euro 2012 is over.

Euro 2012 kicked off in Warsaw, Poland and came to an end three weeks later in Kiev, Ukraine on Sunday. The final match for the European Football Championship title saw Spain rightfully claim the title of best team in Europe (and the world) in a 4-0 drubbing of Italy at Olympiyskiy Stadium.

Now, comes the dissection of the tournament.

It was the largest event to be hosted in Eastern Europe since the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Much has changed since then, the “Iron Curtain” fell, the map of Europe has been redrawn several times, what hasn’t changed is traditional East/West bias.

Months of warnings, perpetuated by the British and European media, proved groundless and largely overblown with the tournament hailed as a success.

The criticism of Ukraine was particularly harsh. Mass media alleged Ukraine’s hosting of the Euro 2012 would be marred by racist violence and organizational chaos.

Instead, Ukraine is enjoying the success of an event that has, for now at least, transformed its image. has followed the championship since it was in its’ preparation stages, here’s our thoughts.

From the fans’ perspective

Ukraine’s greatest victory has been the shot in the arm to its global image.

Contrary to the bad press, the country won over visitors from Europe, but across the world. That is due, in no small part to the single-minded determination of Ordinary to prove the naysayers wrong.

“I won’t believe anyone claiming Ukraine to be dangerous,” claimed Harald Pistorius, a German fan and journalist who followed Euro in Ukraine and Poland. His visits to both host countries were precluded by various precautions and instructions – all of them proved to be useless.

“Surprise” is the word he uses to describe Euro in Ukraine.

Instead of horror stories, he returns to Germany with pleasant impressions and hopes to go back to Ukraine in the near future.

He is alone in his sentiments.

Fans were universal in admitting Ukrainian people met them with warm hospitality, while the country was hailed as best ever prepared locations for hosting Euro.

“I am proud for Ukraine and Poland being able to host this tournament. Both countries established new standards of hosting the event and it will be difficult to surpass them,” Michel Platini, president of the Union of European Football Associations, said.

Visitor numbers, their spend and investment

Two days from the end of the tournament the total number of foreign guests to Ukraine lacks accuracy, but experts estimate the number to be as high as several million. Ukrainian State Customs Service chairman Igor Kaletnik says about four million people crossed Ukrainian during Euro.

“Overall, based on the figures, we have evidence that four million people crossed the boundaries of Ukraine since the beginning of Euro 2012 to the present day,” he said.

The spend by those visitors has also yet to be calculated, but is expected to offset some of the cost of the tournament.

Ukraine sank more than €4billion into preparations for Euro 2012. Though experts forecast this investment will be recouped in two or three years, it has left the country with valuable new infrastructure in the form of new stadiums, hotels, roads and rail.

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