Well dear readers in exactly 1 year from today, this will be the eve of the biggest multinational event in Ukraine’s history since independence.
The first games will take place on 8th June 2012, albeit Ukraine has an additional day of preparation as the first games here do not take place until 9th June.
I have to admit, when it was awarded I was pleased for Ukraine to have won the bid with Poland but had serious misgivings about tis ability to host the tournament. Anyone following the media will not it was not only me. FIFA also had major concerns.
Corruption abound of course. The new Lviv stadium was a major source of financial pilfering under the Tymoshenko government, not to mention marred by delays to the point that FIFA threatened to move the tournament.
Lviv now though, after several changes in contractor and no doubt a seriously interested government, is on track and looking fairly good.
A change of government and announcement that the Kyiv stadium had been seriously under estimated when it came to financial costs by the previous one, of course brought allegations from the now opposition parties that the new government was also with its hand in the till and somewhere in the mix would be stealing the additional funds.
None of this is pretty, but Ukrainian politics runs on half-truths, false and genuine allegations and personal conflicts over and above policy and common sense. During all of this, the FIFA clock is ticking and a new president and government stand to be very red faced if the tournament is withdrawn because Ukraine is not ready. Not to mention the ammunition for the opposition who successfully landed the joint bid with Poland but will not get any international plaudits or bouquets should the event be a success.
So, with exactly 367 days to go (at the date of this post) before the first whistle blows in Ukraine, how are things now?
Well, there will be some logistical problems as there are with every tournament. I have experienced some myself in nations that started with a far better infrastructure that Ukraine. That said, the stadiums will be ready on time without doubt. The internal logistics and infrastructure within the four hosting cities will cope and the planning looks good.
Accommodation for hundreds of thousands of traveling fans is more of a concern, although even that looks like it will be sufficient before kick-off.
40,000 police will apparently learn English. That is much harder to believe. I suspect that amongst that number will be any officer in Ukraine with average English being temporarily assigned to to hosting cities for the tournament in addition to any that manage to grasp the basics between now and this time next year.
What about the stewards and hospitals? I have no idea. Whilst English is not rare, it is not exactly common either.
The official and unofficial gathering of translators has begun in order to take the strain it seems.
So will it be a success? Generally I think it will. I expect Ukraine to surprise the critics and I am not alone in these beliefs. Almost all of the diplomatic corps I have spoken to in Ukraine also seem to think that not only will Ukraine be ready but that it will be a success as well.
Undoubtedly there will be incidents. There are at every major tournament be it the Olympics or the World Cup. The issue with such incidents is not that they occur but how they are dealt with. It seems the diplomatic corps, Europol and every man and his dog is prepared to bend over backwards to help Ukraine host a major success.
All of a sudden, it is starting to look rather promising!