England have their first game in Donetsk against France on Monday 11 June.
During the past few weeks much has been written in the media about Ukraine. I'm sure the current 'leadership' in Ukraine did not expect to see so many 'negative' stories from other European media outlets. These stories have focused on racism, anti-gay movements, anti-semitism and of course the concerns expressed by many European and US politicians concerning the imprisonment of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and her former ministers. Plus one or two stories about homeless children in Kyiv. It's a taken for granted assumption that journalists will try to find something negative to write about Ukraine. This a is a normal practice in all free societies. If the government of Ukraine don't like it..tough. I suggest they start accepting it. The British government have officially declared that they will not be attending.
There are many positive things to write about in Ukraine. Although it is part of Ukrainian culture to always leave EVERYTHING until the last minute, they have done well to prepare for Euro 2012. I have not visited the other cities of Donetsk, Kharkiv and Lviv recently, so I cannot comment. But in Kyiv its good to see so many new roads. It's a good feeling to be able to drive around on roads which remind me of the roads in many Western European countries. Kyiv certainly needed to do this. The bad condition of roads all around Ukraine have been the subject of jokes for many years. (We have plenty of bad roads and fools driving on them...etc).
Many buildings have had a new coat of paint. Many first time visitors to Kyiv usually declare that ''The whole place looks like it needs a coat of paint''. Well its been done. The main airport Kyiv Borispil has a new terminal building and is also looking good. Flower beds have been created at many intersections using the Euro 2012 logo. Restaurants and cafes/bars have updated their menus into English language, but I suspect that prices have also been upgraded just for Euro 2012.
Kyiv city centre has been closed off to vehicle traffic and a huge 'Fan Zone' has been created complete with extra large video screens and an area for musical performances. One of the main sponsors of Euro 2012 - Carslberg, have created many 'Beer and Food Tents' along the main street Khreschatyk and the prices are reasonable. Beer at UAH 20 (EUR 2 or GBP 1.50)
Lets hope that the Euro 2012 Football championships are a great success for Ukraine.