Ukraine’s president moved has moved to allay fears that the uncertainty over the country’s ruling football body will threaten the country’s right to co-host the 2012 European Championship.
President Viktor Yanukovich denied claims that the state was interfering in the Ukrainian football federation (FFU), and called for internal discussions to be deferred until after the tournament and said he did not want Ukraine to lose the right to organise Euro 2012.
“We can resolve the conflict in the FFU by postponing discussions on its internal problems until next year,” he said in an interview ahead of a planned visit to Warsaw on Thursday.
Ukraine is co-hosting Euro 2012 with Poland.
UEFA has given Ukraine until February 4 to end pressure on the president of its national federation or face suspension from international football, thus losing the right to stage the tournament next June.
UEFA supports Hrigory Surkis, who has headed the FFU for 10 years and is now fighting a sustained attempt by opponents to oust him before Euro 2012.
Ukrainian media say key influential figures who want the 61-year-old Surkis out include Euro 2012 minister Borys Kolesnikov and chemical and construction oligarch Oleksander Yaroslavsky.
Last Friday, UEFA gave Ukraine a week to resolve the situation after receiving documents indicating that some state and regional authorities were putting pressure on delegates.
Surkis’s opponents, who have a majority voice in the FFU, say they will continue to seek his dismissal despite the warnings from UEFA and world governing body FIFA.
Several FFU members tried unsuccessfully in December to sack Surkis who has been accused by some fans of favouring Dynamo Kiev, a team run by his brother Ihor Surkis.
Other power brokers entwined within Ukrainian football include its wealthiest man, Rinat Akhmetov who owns leading club Shakhtar Donetsk. He was a powerful financial backer of Yanukovich’s election campaign.