Ukraine's president says not meddling in soccer body

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Feb. 2, 2011, 3:11 p.m. | Ukraine — by Reuters

President Viktor Yanukovich says not meddling in soccer body.


Ukraine's president denied political interference in his country's soccer federation (FFU) in an interview published on Wednesday, brushing aside charges that threaten Kiev's right to co-host Euro 2012 with Poland. Last week, European soccer's governing body UEFA said Ukraine could be suspended from international football and thus lose the right to stage the European championship if it does not act quickly to stop political interference.

"I assure you that the state authorities are not mounting political pressure on the FFU," President Viktor Yanukovich told Polish media in an interview ahead of his planned visit to Warsaw on Thursday.

"In the past year, we have caught up on delays in preparations for the championship and I do not want Ukraine to be deprived of the right to organise Euro 2012," Yanukovich said.

"We can resolve the conflict in the FFU by postponing discussions on its internal problems until next year," he added.

Last Friday, UEFA gave Ukraine a week to resolve the situation after receiving documents showing that some state and regional authorities were putting pressure on delegates.

The soccer scene in Ukraine reflects competing interests among major oligarchs and Ukrainian media said key figures in the political establishment, including Euro 2012 minister Borys Kolesnikov, wanted FFU head Hrigory Surkis out.

Surkis's opponents have said they will continue to seek his dismissal despite the warnings from UEFA and world soccer's governing body FIFA.
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