Football: 50,000 Euro 2012 tickets unsold in Ukraine
(WARSAW) - A total of 50,000 tickets for Euro 2012 remain unsold for matches in Ukraine, UEFA said on Monday, while playing down suggestions that rocketing accommodation prices are to blame.
"In Poland, we are basically sold out. In Ukraine, we still have around 50,000 tickets," Pedro Correia, head of UEFA's ticket operations, said in the Polish capital Warsaw.
"It's no secret that demand was far higher in Poland than in Ukraine," he told reporters pressing him to contrast the two host nations for the looming European championship.
Euro 2012 kicks off on June 8 in Warsaw and ends with the final on July 1 in the Ukrainian capital Kiev.
With more than a million fans expected to flock to the first-ever edition of Europe's top international tournament to be held behind the former Iron Curtain, demand for accommodation has vastly outstripped supply, notably in Ukraine.
Ukraine's tourist sector has been accused of seeing Western fans as a way to make a fast buck, charging huge sums for relatively low-quality accommodation.
Visiting Ukraine earlier this month, UEFA chief Michel Platini lashed out at "bandits and crooks" there.
Accommodation headaches, plus problems in getting to locations such as the eastern Ukrainian host city of Donetsk, have been seen as denting demand for tickets.
England, for example, play their Group D opener with France on June 11 in Donetsk, and their normally-ardent supporters are reported to have bought only half of the 7,000 tickets for that match available via the English Football Association.
"Concerning Ukraine, actually the results are good, because we're talking about almost 1.4 million tickets for Euro 2012, and what we have left for the tournament is 50,000," said Correia.
"There are different reasons that tickets became available, because in the last sales phase, which is ending now, the national associations did not take all their allocations," he explained.
"For sure, it has to do with different reasons, probably the economic situation in Europe, the cost of travelling, the cost of accommodation," he added.
Correia insisted that precedent showed that the issue should not be overplayed.
"Usually our target is 95 percent of the tickets sold, because it's almost impossible to have 100 percent. We are within that. I think we're now at 96 or 97 percent. In the past, at Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland, we also sold around 60,000 tickets at the last minute. So it's not out of the ordinary," he told AFP.
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