The national sport minister says he would like to see Krakow hold two or three of the Euro 2012 soccer games.
Tomasz Lipiec?s statement was the strongest signal yet that the city may get some of the matches. Right now ? officially, at least ? Krakow is simply a backup if one of the four ?first line? cities can?t meet its commitment. While saying that he supports the idea of Krakow getting the games, Lipiec couldn?t resist taking a political poke at Krakow Mayor Jacek Majchrowski.
The two, who are from different political parties, blame the other?s party for Krakow being a backup city. National, regional and city officials say Krakow should host some of the European soccer championship matches in 2012. Last week they met to try to show publicly at least that they were unified on that point.
Lipiec told Majchrowski and Malopolska Governor Maciej Klima about the first meeting that Poland?s Euro 2012 organizing committee had with the European Football Federation about the games. He also told them he supports their efforts to bring two or three matches to Krakow.
The three formed a committee aimed at securing a Euro 2012 spot for the city.
Malopolska Regional officials and non-governmental organizations plan to send half a million signatures supporting Krakow?s candidacy to the football federation?s headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. Whether that will have an impact remains to be seen. Poland and Ukraine are jointly hosting the games. Each country chose mainline locations and backups.
Poland?s mainline cities are Warsaw, Poznan, Wroclaw and Gdansk. The backups are Krakow and Chorzow. In announcing the three-person Krakow-promotion committee at a press conference, Lipiec said Krakow didn?t make the mainline cities list because the Majhrowski administration failed to do enough to nail down a deal.
Majchrowski contends that the reason the city didn?t make the mainline list was that Lipiec?s boss, Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, was punishing Krakow for political reasons.
Kaczynski is in the rightwing ?Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc? (PiS), or Law and Justice Party, while Majchrowski is in the socialist ?Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej? (SLD) or Alliance of the Democratic Left Party.
When Majchrowski was elected mayor in 2002, he suspended his membership in the SLD, saying he wanted to represent all Krakow residents, not just those who supported his party. Further irritating national Law and Justice officials, Krakow was among the cities casting the fewest votes for the party in the 2005 presidential and parliamentary elections.
And just last year Majchrowski was re-elected in a landslide, winning a second-round runoff with the Law and Justice candidate Ryszard Terlecki by 60 percent to 40 percent.
Three of the four mainline soccer cities ? Warsaw, Wroclaw and Gdansk — will be building new stadiums for the games. Poznan is renovating its stadium, which is home to Lech, the Polish Soccer League team with the highest attendance.
Krakow is renovating Wisla Stadium in case it gets some matches. The renovation will increase its seating capacity from 15,000 fans to 35,000.
Chorzow renovated its Slaski Stadium a few years ago. The games could be a major boost for Poland?s economy if handled correctly.
Although the games are 5 years away, some Poles are already fretting that the government at all levels and business aren?t moving quickly enough on the infrastructure improvements needed to make the matches a success.
Meanwhile, the Italians, who lost out to Poland and Ukraine in their bid to host the games, are criticizing the selection.
They point to poor transportation, hotel and communication infrastructure. Indeed, Polish roads are among the worst in Europe.