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Ukraine soccer chief hails Euro 2012 event

By Graham Dunbar

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Dec. 2 2011 8:40 a.m. MST

Workers erect flags in front of the Palace of Arts in Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011. The final draw for the Soccer Euro 2012 is to take place in the hall on Dec. 2.

Ferdinand Ostrop, Associated Press

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukrainian soccer leader Hrihoriy Surkis says hosting the 2012 European Championship is important for his country's political integration.

Surkis says it would have been "a disaster" for Ukraine's relations in Europe if it had lost co-hosting rights because of construction delays.

The Ukraine soccer president says "we would have lost the trust and confidence," and the country's image would be "very low."

Surkis spoke Friday ahead of the 16-nation Euro 2012 finals draw in the former Soviet Union republic's capital Kiev.

He says Ukraine has "numerous" minor problems to solve before the June 8 kickoff.

Surkis says Ukrainians must "charm" visitors, and be more like other Europeans by speaking foreign languages.

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