UEFA rejects England’s Ukrainian venue

The uncertainty over press facilities for England’s World Cup football qualifier in Kazakhstan next month has persuaded at least one national Sunday title to consider covering the event off television.

The SJA website reported last month the inadequate, Borat-style facilities for a press box without mains electricity or telephone lines at the Kazakhstan national stadium, and conveyed our members’ concerns to the football authorities.

This week, UEFA, the European football body, determined that Dnipropetrovsk, the likely venue for England’s World Cup qualifier against Ukraine in October, is not suitable for its Euro 2012 tournament. UEFA approved only Kiev among Ukraine’s proposed venues for 2012, but building work at the national stadium makes it impossible for the capital to stage the World Cup qualifier this year.

Knowing the numbers likely to follow England in their penultimate match of the World Cup qualifying campaign that has so far been a roaring success under Fabio Capello, the FA is likely to be alarmed at UEFA’s damning verdict.

“UEFA considers that due to the current shortcomings with regard to the stadiums, airport infrastructure, regional transport and accommodation, this venue will not meet the tournament requirements,” a UEFA statement said of Dnipropetrovsk.

“There are numerous infrastructure issues that urgently need to be resolved in Ukraine to convince the UEFA Executive Committee that the host city candidates can be appointed as UEFA Euro 2012 host cities,” Michel Platini, the UEFA chief, said this week.

Such a decision ought to raise further concerns about the lack of modern media facilities at Almaty, the Kazakhstan capital, ahead of England’s World Cup qualifier on June 6.

Oil-rich Kazakhstan’s national football team plays in a stadium where there are only 20 seats and desks promised for the visiting media for the Group 6 qualifying match.

But with the pressure of deadlines for a high-profile Saturday match, with the result and other news likely to dominate the sports section and lead the following day’s news coverage, at least one national newspaper sports editor is believed to have abandoned plans to send any reporters to Almaty, to avoid the risk that they will be let down by the inadequate media facilities provided there.

With ever-increasing pressures on sports desk budgets, it is a move which is likely to have been considered elsewhere.

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