Union of European Football Associations chief Michel Platini said Thursday he was concerned about rising accommodation costs in Ukraine for the Euro 2012 championships, claiming "bandits and crooks" were inflating their prices to rip off soccer fans.
AFP - UEFA chief Michel Platini on Thursday accused "bandits and crooks" of hiking hotel prices in Ukraine to sky-high levels for the Euro 2012 football championships, amid growing concerns over the price of accommodation.
Platini's alarm took some of the shine off his ceremonial opening of a brand new airport terminal in Lviv, one of the final big projects to come online in Ukraine before it jointly hosts the championships with Poland in June.
"It's annoying to have made a lot of investment and then say to people that they can't come because there are bandits and crooks who want to make a lot of money during this Euro," Platini said on a visit to the western Ukrainian host city.
"Yes, this worries me. I think that the authorities are there to make sure that things are respected," he added.
With less than two months to go until kick-off, alarm is increasing that hoteliers in the four Ukrainian host cities are looking to take advantage of the unprecedented influx of relatively well-off foreigners.
"You can't change (the price of a room) from 40 euros to 100 and then up to 500 just like that from one day to the other, this just is not done," said Platini.
He indicated that some Ukrainian hoteliers were also not respecting contracts for rooms agreed before the championships, which are expected to see 1.4 million fans flock into Poland and Ukraine.
"I hope for your sake (Ukraine) that the contracts which hoteliers have made will be respected as otherwise the people are not going to come," he warned.
Platini said UEFA was already being asked by media planning to cover the championships how to find reasonably-priced accommodation.
"We promote Ukraine, we say 'it's great, you (Ukrainians) are kind, remarkable and sweet people and the atmosphere is going to be great'. But they are not going to be able to come as it is too expensive."
Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Borys Kolesnikov, the government pointman on the tournament, promised to take the necessary measures "within the next 30 days" to solve the problem.
Euro 2012 is by far the biggest event Ukraine has hosted since the fall of the Soviet Union and there have long been concerns about demand for beds outstripping supply for the championships.
The problem is particularly acute in the eastern city of Donetsk where an AFP correspondent found last month that a hotel near the stadium is charging 3,600 euros to stay on the night of the June 27 semi-final, 85 times its non-tournament rate of 42 euros.
Platini jointly opened with President Viktor Yanukovych the new airport terminal in Lviv, which has always been seen as the Ukrainian city requiring the most new infrastructure in order to host the tournament.
"We understand well how much work we still have to do," said Yanukovych. "We are going to work until the last night to be sure of giving a worthy welcome," he added.
The glitzy new terminal will welcome fans instead of the no-frills old terminal at Lviv which looked little different and offered no more comfort than a Soviet-era railway station.
The Lviv airport is now named after the mediaeval Galician king Danylo Galytskiy.
With the tournament kicking off in Poland on June 8, Lviv will host its first Group B match between Germany and Portugal on June 9.
A Ukrainian source close to the preparations said that UEFA was still unhappy with the situation in Lviv, where even UEFA's own offices at Lviv's new stadium and the telecoms room have a leaking ceiling.
But Markian Lubivsky of the local organising committee said while there where some "technical problems" as the media and volunteers centre "they will be solved within the next two or three three weeks."
Date created : 2012-04-12