Euro 2012 big opportunity for Poland to boost economic growth


In Poland, fans and politicians are celebrating what will surely prove to be a major event for the nation - the European Football Championship in 2012. Poland and Ukraine beat Italy and joint bidders Hungary and Croatia in the race to host the event, which will surely go far beyond just a sporting competition. But the organisation of the Euro 2012 is seen by most Poles first and foremost as a big opportunity to boost the country's economic growth:

The Polish media will no doubt continue to repeat the live recording of the official announcement of the UEFA decision for quite some time, as well as the reactions from football fans who watched the ceremony on a giant television screen in the centre of Warsaw. Once the initial euphoria died down, however, most Poles look at the big sports event in five years' time as a challenge and opportunity for the Polish economy.

'I'm very happy, first of all as a football fan it's a big event for me. Secondly, it's a big chance for Poland, for the Polish economy that it will develop. It probably would develop in 20 years, now it will have to develop in 5 years. So from this point of view it's a great event that Poland is hosting these championships.'

'We have a chance to make our business better. It's good for Poland.'

'It's a good opportunity for Poland to develop the infrastructure, to build new roads and earn some money.'

The boost for Polish soccer comes at the time when the image of the game has been dented by corruption. In recent months, sixty arrests were made of referees and Polish Football Association officials involved in match-fixing scandals. Former Polish prime minister, soccer fan Jan Krzysztof Bielecki hopes that the organisation of the Euro Championships will have an all-round positive impact on Polish soccer.

'I'm sure that it will accelerate the cleaning up of Polish records. We have to start looking forward to the future. It gives enormous boost to Polish football players, to football clubs. Everybody now wants to be a football player; everybody can dream that he can play in Kiev in the finals in 2012. It's enormous motivation.'

There is awareness in Poland of the enormity of the task of organising the event, if only to mention the poor state of roads and the lack of proper stadiums. Marcin Sobczyk of Interfax Central Europe stresses that the projects that have to be completed are very challenging and it is obvious that Poland and Ukraine will face many difficulties.

'Quite frankly I expect alarming reports as we progress towards the deadline saying that both countries are not prepared, that infrastructure is lacking, etc. Surely, there will be problems but Poland has demonstrated over the past couple of years that it's able to make up for some time and actually meets the deadlines when it absolutely must. This is the case in the Europe 2012 project.'

Jan Krzysztof Bielecki shares the view that having a deadline is a good thing for Poland. He is confident that Poland will draw many economic benefits from the Euro 2012.

'In the short term it could accelerate the decision of the Monetary Policy Council in increase interest rates. That could be the first visible result of this incredible enthusiasm and fast growing Polish economy. In the medium term it will change the Polish infrastructure and will give the Poles so needed deadline because we Poles like to have deadline and pressure from the deadline. The deadline will push us to act a little bit quicker. The necessary changes will be made.'

According to Polish authorities, around 26 billion euros, including EU financing have been earmarked to upgrade infrastructure, particularly road, rail and air projects. New stadiums are to be built in four Polish towns.