Ukraine – Host of the Euro 2012

The country of Ukraine, which will be co-hosting Euro 2012 with Poland, is one of the largest European nations by size and population as it’s home to about 46 million people. The local currency used is the Hryvnia. The nation was formed in 1991. However, the history of the country goes back hundreds of years as it was formerly a part of the USSR.

Ukraine has a very rich history as you could imagine and had produced some famous people over the years. These include the artist and poet Taras Shevchenko, philosopher Grygoriy Skovoroda, writer Ivan Franko, poet Lesia Ukrainka, composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky, authors Mikhail Bulgakov, and Nikolai Gogol, premiers Nikita Khrushchev and Leoniz Brezhnev, heart surgeon Mykola Amosov, composer Sergiy Prokofiev, and Israeli prime minister Golda Meir.

Ukraine’s soccer history also goes back to the Soviet days and the country has also been the home to some other excellent athletes such as pole-vaulter Serhiy Bubka, Olympian gymnasts Borys Shakhlin and Larysa Latynina, Olympic runner Valeriy Borzov, swimmer Yana Klochkova, and world heavyweight boxing champions Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko.

Ukraine always supplied the USSR national team with some of its best players with many of them coming from FC Dynamo Kyiv. Some of the best players were Oleh Blokhin, Anatoliy Demyanenko, Igor Belanov, Oleh Protasov, and Volodymyr Bezsonov. Three Ukrainian players, Belanov, Blokhin, and Andriy Shevchenko have been recipients of the Ballon d’Or award for Europe’s top player.

The Ukrainian Football Federation was born in 1991 and the country’s national team made its debut in a game against Hungary in 1992. The nation qualified for the World Cup in 2006 where they made it to the quarterfinal stage. The team will be making its debut in the European Championships during Euro 2012, but Ukraine made it to the final of the European Under-21 Championship in 2006 in Portugal and also captured the European U19 Championship in 2009 at home.

Ukrainian teams did very well in the Soviet Supreme League with Dynamo Kyiv winning it 13 times, which is a record. FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk won the league twice and another Ukrainian team, FC Zorya Luhansk hoisted the league trophy once. The first Ukrainian League title was won by SC Tavriya Simferopol in 1992 and then Dynamo took over by winning nine titles in a row. Dynamo is actually one of the top teams in Europe as they’ won the UEFA Cup in 1974/75 as well as in 1985/86. However, the first team to win a European trophy since the country gained independence was Shakhtar Donetsk when they won the UEFA Cup in 2008/09, they will now be seen most often in the Europa League.

The Ukrainian stadiums and cities that are hosting games in Euro 2012 are the historical centres of Donetsk (Donbass Arena), Kharkiv (Metalist Stadium), Kiev (Olympic NSC Stadium), and Lviv (New Stadium). Each host city has a rich history with strong local traditions and culture. There are plenty of restaurants and accommodations to choose from in all types of price ranges. Each city will offer an excellent transportation system to get you to and from the games.

Some of the most popular hotels are the Donbass Palace, Prague Hotel, and Victoria Hotel in Donetsk; the Premier Palace Hotel, the Opera Hotel, and the Hyatt Regency in Kiev; the Cosmopolit, Hotel Kharkiv, and Gostinii Dvor in Kharkiv; and the Leopolis Hotel, Vintage Boutique Hotel, and the Citadel Inn Hotel and Resort in Lviv.

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