Platini gives boost to troubled Euro 2012 hosts
UEFA president Michel Platini gave his full support to Poland and Ukraine as co-hosts of the 2012 European Championship, while urging both countries to step up their preparations after a series of setbacks.
Platini told the UEFA Congress in Tel Aviv on Thursday that Euro 2012 organizers have had to face ``many difficulties,'' especially repeated delays to construction of new stadiums. But Platini said UEFA stood by its decision to award them the tournament.
``I believe in you. We believe in you,'' Platini told Ukraine Football Association president Grigoriy Surkis and Poland soccer chief Grzegorz Lato. ``And remember, in only 27 months, the eyes of the whole world will be on you. So don't take your foot off the pedal, but step up your efforts.''
Platini confirmed the profits generated by Euro 2012 were unlikely to match those from the 2008 European Championship in Austria and Switzerland, but the 53 UEFA soccer associations will receive the same solidarity payments as in the current cycle.
``This European Championship final round is a message of hope, an investment in the future, a sign of openness and a fantastic challenge,'' Platini said.
Euro 2008 made a $335 million profit for UEFA.
Platini said before the congress that UEFA has so far been largely unaffected by the global financial crisis.
The showpiece Champions League - world football's richest club competition - will earn at least $1.46 billion in commercial revenues this season, and for each of the next two years.
More than two-thirds of the cash was shared among the 32 clubs who reach the group stage.
UEFA's annual share was about $270 million, which funds its running costs, other continental tournaments, and payments to its 53 members.
Platini also announced he'll seek re-election next year.
Since ousting Lennart Johansson in January 2007, Platini said he's been pleased with UEFA's accomplishments but believed there was plenty of work ahead.