To celebrate the 5th anniversary of the European Football Championship that was held in Ukraine and Poland, Ukraine, Football-1 and Football-2 TV Channels presented a large-scale documentary project “Euro-2012. Ukraine’s Pride”. Its first broadcast was on Saturday, July 15. The producers of the project restored the chronology of preparing this country for the Championship as well as gathered recollections of the key participants of the process.
Kharkiv was spoken about by the general investor of preparing the city for Euro-2012, the owner and president of DCH Group Oleksandr Yaroslavsky and by Martin Kallen who was the Director of the Operations Division at Euro-2012 and currently is the CEO of UEFA Events.
“When I realized what the Championship means I understood that there is a chance to unlock Kharkiv’s potential. And it was a challenge for all of us. Because, you know, Kharkiv was a reserve city. And when the UEFA authorities came to inspect the city for the first time I saw nothing but an ironic smile on their faces. They wouldn’t even think that our city can have a claim on becoming a major city to host Euro-2012,” Oleksandr Yaroslavsky tells us in the film.
Martin Kallen supports this idea: the UEFA authorities had a lot of questions for the city. But, the authors of the film say, it was Oleksandr Yaroslavsky who saved the day by investing $ 300 mln. in preparing Kharkiv for the Championship (it was the biggest private investment in the Ukrainian part of Euro-2012).
“If you knew Mr. Yaroslavsky you would understand why he can be trusted. Sometimes it was very difficult to believe that everything he said would come true. Because it seemed then that the mission was impossible,” Martin Kallen tells us in the film.
Answering journalists’ question which object of Euro-2012 that Yaroslavsky dealt with (the stadium, the airport, the first five-star hotel of the city, the training camp, the volunteers’ center) turned out to be the most demanding the businessman said, “Most probably the stadium. Because we were not building it “from scratch”, we were rebuilding it. We had practically finished when UEFA people came and said – add more aisles. And how could we cut through stands? It’s not a Kyiv cake – slide with a knife and get aisles. I should pay tribute to our Kharkiv architects and builders – they did it. I bow down to them.”
In Kharkiv International Airport the whole air terminal complex was completed in time. And the restored historic building of the VIP terminal was personally opened by the then president of UEFA. But there arose problems with the airfield – the state’s part of the joint private and state partnership project.
“Yet another significant problem of Kharkiv was its airport. The runway and the tower were built with the government’s money. And the construction was finished very late…,” Martin Kallen tells us in the film.
None the less grand project for Kharkiv’s Euro-2012 was the Premier Palace Hotel Kharkiv which was also built by Oleksandr Yaroslavsky’s DCH Group. The head of the Ukrainian Euro-2012 Organizing Committee Markian Lubkivskyi remembers that the European football authorities were shocked by the hotels situated in the “first capital” in those days. “We had a problem with hotels in Kharkiv, ” Martin Kallen tells us in the film. But the solution was provided. “When they [UEFA – eds.] realized that there is no hotel where they can really accommodate their headquarters the question arose: either there will be a hotel or there will probably be no Euro-2012. Then we didn’t have much choice. We had to start building the hotel,” says Oleksandr Yaroslavsky.
Still, these are not all the secrets of quite a dramatic preparation and actual holding of Euro-2012 in Ukraine. The full version of a really captivating film can be seen again on Football-1 TV Channel today, on Tuesday (at 7.20 pm).