Bring the fans IN... Europeans are not prepared to be ripped off

We are running a piece below published by Kyiv Post which makes depressing reading for anyone associated with Ukraine.

On the one hand, Ukraine's politicians have well and truly bodged things up.  Of that there can be little doubt.  No matter how Ukraine's political leadership try to spin it, they will have to (at least) privately admit that no democratically minded European politician wants to be seen to be mingling with them at such a hgh profile tournament as the Euro Football Championships.  Perhaps they deemed their polically motivated trials to be a good idea at the time, but the consequences of their miscalculations are now beginning to bite hard.  

On the other hand, from a purely non-political point of view, Ukraine's hoteliers and proprietors of hostels appear to have also been gripped by an overwhelming fervour urging them to overcharge potential clients to the point of absolute exclusion.  Had they kept their heads and prices at a reasonable level, they would have all been fully booked today.  And if the restaurants and bars retained their normal prices normal too, everyone would have been happy.

However, as things stand today, it appears that Ukrainian hoteliers et al have also shot themselves in the foot big time. Or, rather, in both feet!  For English or Dutch fans to think of just flying in and straight back out after a Euro Championship match is quite unthinkable. It is proof (if proof were needed) that Ukrainians have overcooked their zeal to extort.  How very sad it is that apparent greed has surpassed all common sense!  The window of opportunity to "sell" Ukraine to a broader tourist market/audience for future years has been shut to the point that it is quite possible now, that Ukraine will become a relative ghost-town in between matches (compared to previous such tournaments) as fans flee to escape the highly inflated prices.  And what overriding memory will they take back home with them?  Rip-off Ukraine!  Don't go there again!

Much will be made, of course, of those fans who will stay.  News channels will be encouraged to relay pictures of how well things are going - and in all probability, it may become hard to argue against such images.  But the reality is, that whereas Ukraine expected 1-1.5 million people from other countries to enjoy Ukrainian hospitality during the Euro-2012 Championships, the higher expectation is that Ukraine is likely to welcome only about half that number of visitors.

So what to do?  Continue to bury one's head in the sand and regard this posting as yet another piece of negative of diaspora "propaganda"?  Or, alternatively, perhaps, to face the facts?  It will never be too late for Ukraine's politicians to come clean and to admit to the errors of their own ways (but this is highly unlikely to happen so we will not dwell on or pursue this possibility in this instance!).  

However, hoteliers, unanimously, in collaboration with resaturanteurs/barsmen/tradesmen can still save the situation by loudly proclaming some unbelievably great rates for accommodation, etc... "join us for the Euro's even if you haven't got tickets for the matches...". A clear and unequivocal message BUT then stick to the reasonable NORMAL prices!  Simple really.  It would open up the gates to a rip-roaring trade and everyone that visits will want to come back. And as a gesure of goodwill, why not give a partial refund to those who have been ripped off and paid already?

We cannot, of course, speak on behalf of every European country but we do know that the British population does not like to be ripped off.  So our message to Ukraine at this late stage is... do something about it... and the fans will come in and stay... and they may well return over and over again.  But they will NEVER visit again if you try to rip them off!!!

If you agree or disagree with this piece, you are more than welcome to leave your comments on our facebook site.

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High prices, poor infrastructure scare foreign fans off Ukraine

Yesterday at 21:55 | Oksana Grytsenko

KYIV POST.  Jens Nielsen is sitting in his Danish hometown of Esbjerg worrying about Ukrainian train tickets. 

He’s visiting Lviv to watch his team play in the Euro 2012 football tournament, but says he can’t book a train back to Poland for his flight home.

At least Nielsen, a diehard football fan who for the last four years has organized trips abroad for Danish supporters, is still coming.

The flood of foreign fans that Ukraine expected for the tournament – officials boldly predicted one million – is under threat of turning into a trickle. Put off by overpriced hotels, poor infrastructure and the long traveling distances, many countries’ fans have not taken up the full ticket allocation for their teams’ games in Ukraine this June.

Danish media report that just over 3,000 tickets have been sold to Danish fans for each of the matches in Lviv, and only 1,761 for the game in Kharkiv, which is less than one-third of the allocation for the game.

Nielsen believes that if the Danish national team had been scheduled to play in Poland, four or five times more fans would have made the trip.

The lower number of fans could not only impact the economic benefits the tournament was supposed to bring to the country, but also reduce the international festival atmosphere that is a crucial part of the tournament.

England fans are also coming in smaller numbers than usual. Kevin Miles, a spokesman for the Football Supporters Federation, said he expected from 5,000 to 10,000 supporters to make the trip.

As many as 50,000 England fans followed the team the last time it qualified for the finals in Portugal in 2004, according to media reports.

“Ukraine is not the easiest country to get to. The distances of the travel by the country in between the venues are quite big, and the transport internally is not ideal,” Miles said.

High prices distracted the English fans as well. “At least £600 or £700 for a flight, and then to book hotel for £200 pounds for a room,” Miles said. “A lot of people don’t have much money.”

Another reason for fans staying away is a lack of information, especially about Donetsk in Ukraine’s east. “The countries where the tournament has been recently played are tourist destinations. For example, in 2004 [it was] Portugal. A lot of British people go to Portugal anyway for family holiday,” said Miles. “Donetsk could be a great place for a football match, but it is not necessarily the place you want to go to for a week’s holiday.”

Florent Egonneau, a 26-year-old bank employee from France, is coming to Kyiv for his team’s match with Sweden. He is planning to live in his friend’s apartment in order to avoid paying steep hotel prices.

Around 5,000 fans from France are expected in Ukraine, according to a forecast by the French embassy. This is much lower that the allocation of 8,000 tickets it is offered for just one of its three games in Donetsk. 

Many Danes decided to stay in Krakow just across the border in Poland, despite all of their team’s group matches being played in Ukraine. They intend to travel to Lviv by bus and return just after the matches, and don’t plan to visit Kharkiv at all.

Dmytro Zaruba, the former deputy head of the State Tourism Service, agrees foreign fans may avoid Donetsk and Kharkiv because of poor infrastructure and lack of information about them. “They don’t know what to do at all on the days they are staying there,” he said.

Some fans may also have been put off visiting Ukraine by widespread stories – often exaggerated – of threats from racist hooligans.

Markiyan Lubkivsky, director of UEFA Euro 2012 in Ukraine, assured the Kyiv Post that none of Ukraine’s host cities would suffer a lack of foreign fans. “An unprecedented number of people will come to us,” he said.

Lubkivsky said he knew the English fans are not active in purchasing tickets, but that other foreigners will make up lack of them. “We have no problems with Swedes. A lot of Poles and Russians, Dutch, Germans will come here,” he said.

German fans, whose team will play in Lviv and Kharkiv, have bought about 6,000 tickets for these matches, according to German Football Federation. About 20,000 German fans are expected in Ukraine, the German Ambassador Hans-Jurgen Heimsoeth said.

Swedish Ambassador Stefen Gullgren told the Kyiv Post that about 20,000-25,000 Swedes are expected to come to Kyiv, where their national team will play all its group matches.

One of the largest groups of foreign fans will be from Russia, even though the Russian team will play all its group games in Poland. Deputy Prime Minister Borys Kolesnikov said Russians will make up half of all the foreign tourists to Ukraine during the tournament.

Experts are expecting a last-minute rush for tickets, which are still available. Around 400 tickets for the tournament were sold to the Danish fans in the last few days. Accommodation costs are falling, according to tourism expert Zaruba.

Some Ukrainians have taken matters into their own hands. They created a group called Friendly Ukraine, offering accommodation, airport transfers, interpreting and information services for free in order to counter the greedy image of their country. (See their websites at, and

Nielsen, the Danish fan, said he was lucky to find two flats in the center of Lviv for him and his friends for a price only three times higher than normal. Despite all the troubles he hopes to “have a big party with the Dutch, Portuguese, Germans and especially Ukrainians” during the championship.

Kyiv Post staff writer Oksana Grytsenko can be reached at

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