Football: Fan lobby set to caution Euro 2012 price hikes
(WARSAW) - Europe's football fan lobby is ready to take action amid raging concerns over snowballing accommodation prices in Euro 2012 co-hosts Poland and Ukraine, it said Friday.
"If there's a problem, we're ready to step in," Thomas Gassler of Football Supporters Europe told AFP during an assessment trip in Poland.
Poland and Ukraine's hotel industries have faced criticism for jacking up prices as they prepare for the 16-nation European championships.
"Prices are three to five times higher than normal in Poland, and seven times higher in Ukraine," underlined Gassler.
He highlighted the case of a Swedish supporter -- whose team will play their group stage games in Ukraine -- who reserved a room for 28 euros but received an invoice for 210 euros.
With over a million plus fans predicted to flock to the tournament, some in Poland and Ukraine have cited the law of supply and demand as the explanation for the price hikes.
Poland and Ukraine aim to reap economic benefits from fans' spending and hope to use the tournament to boost tourism in the future.
But the Polish Chamber of Tourism recently warned that trying to make a fast buck in the hotel trade could backfire by putting supporters off.
Gassler echoed that.
"Football fans want to spend money during the day, or at night partying, but not on sleeping. At least, not on overpriced accommodation," he said.
He said that Football Supporters Europe -- which groups three million fans in 40 countries -- was planning talks with authorities in Poland and Ukraine's host cities and the sport's European governing body UEFA.
The aim, he explained, was to help fans who may be unfamiliar with the region to possibly find alternative accommodation.
He pointed to a drive to pool information on private apartments whose residents plan to move out for the duration of the tournament and rent them to fans.
Euro 2012 kicks off in Warsaw on June 8 and ends with the final in the Ukrainian capital Kiev on July 1.
It is the first time the quadrennial championships will take place behind the former Iron Curtain, in a region where the infrastructure challenges outweigh anything in previous Western European host nations.
Poland and Ukraine are anxious to prove their organisational mettle, having been plagued by doubters -- notably those underlining an accommodation shortfall -- ever since UEFA picked them as hosts ahead of much-fancied Italy in 2007.
Text and Picture Copyright 2012 AFP. All other Copyright 2012 EUbusiness Ltd. All rights reserved. This material is intended solely for personal use. Any other reproduction, publication or redistribution of this material without the written agreement of the copyright owner is strictly forbidden and any breach of copyright will be considered actionable.