Poland’s preparations for the football championships in 2012 continue to resemble a drunk wandering through a minefield. I hate to think how things look in Ukraine.
Euro 2012 – Poland / Ukraine
After a slow start and many warnings from UEFA & FIFA that the chumpionships will be removed and given to Scotland instead, work on the stadiums finally got into full swing a few months back. Everyone took a deep breath and relaxed, happy that 2012 was back on track. Now, like a bolt from the blue comes the terrible realisation that the hotels destined to house some of the teams are simply not up to required standards!
Eight international teams are expected to reside in Poland for the tournament and UEFA impose strict regulations governing where they can stay:
UEFA holds strict standards for housing football teams during international competitions: teams must stay in a 5-star hotel, with a minimum of sixty rooms with one conference room per 100 people. The hotel must be situated so that it is not easily accessible to fans or journalists, with two practice fields in the area, yet within one hour of an airport.
Anyone who has travelled around Poland knows this is an impossibility but that hasn’t stopped the enterprising Poles trying it on. One such place is the Hotel Jarota. Nestling gently between Nowhere and Nowhere Dolny, Jarocin is a town of 25,000 people made famous for holding the first rock/punk concerts in the former Eastern Blok back in the 80’s. Possibly the only UEFA criteria this place meets is to be within 1 hour of an airport but they will have to hack into Google maps and change the code because it currently gives a drive time of 1 hour 3 minutes to Poznan, the nearest place of any significance. Perhaps Poznan International Airport, that hub of European travel, is the Jarocin side of the town centre?
The hotel is part of a wider offering known as Jarocin Sport and has various sporty things attached to, or close by, the hotel. Things like swimming pools, running tracks and football pitches. Someone obviously put 2+2 together, made 16 and decided this was an ideal venue for the likes of Christiano Ronaldo to get themselves into peak physical and mental condition ready to help their team win Euro 2012. To that end, they added the statement on their website that the “Ośrodek akredytowany dla drużyn na EURO2012” (Centre is approved for use by Euro 2012 teams).
Can this be true? Are they really, truly, ready to cater to the demands of an entire squad of players who are paid on average around 250,000 zloty PER WEEK? Who need somewhere to park their Bentleys, Astons & Ferraris. That’s assuming they didn’t bring their planes and helicopters with them. Many of these people are more up their own *hole of self-importance than are Hollywood stars and certainly all of them are used to being as well looked after as the president of a major international bank, dictator of a small nation or member of a royal family. Where do the WAGs hang out, assuming they are allowed to visit? Are they supposed to pop out for shopping and manicures to nearby Pleszew?
WAGs doing what they do best
Well, according to UEFA they are not ready to cater for such illustrious clientèle. As the article states:
A complex in the western city of Jarocin ……. is being presented with difficulties in completing UEFA standards, despite the fact that the Jarocin Sport centre, partially owned by the regional government, includes a full-service hotel, five fields, and covered and open swimming pools.
In order to fulfill UEFA’s requirements, a 17-million zloty (3.8 million euro) [renovation? – Ed] of the hotel must occur, forty percent of costs will be covered by the EU. Cost analysis calculations have shown that, despite EU supplementary funds, the region will lose 150,000 zloty (34,000 euro).
This is a great scam, isn’t it? Find some borderline location that is in need of improvement, present it to UEFA, get a list of reasons why it’s no good, fabricate calculate a multi million Euro budget for doing the necessary works, get the EU to pay 40% of it (which actually covers 100% of the real costs no doubt), do the work, put up with the footballers for a few weeks and then milk the wedding reception business for the rest of your life – “Ale fajne! We had our wesele in the place the Portuguese team stayed for Euro 2012. We even slept in the same room as Christiano Ronaldo!!”.
“Our analysis does show, however, that after increasing the standard of the hotel, the complex will earn back the money,” stated Slawomir Chrzanowski, head of the firm Jarocin Sport.
“We are making up our financial losses by hosting wedding parties,” adds Jan Jurkiewicz, hotel investor in Straszecin, southern Poland. Jurkiewicz is heavily invested in a sports complex near Rzeszow, meant to serve teams playing in Chorzow or Krakow in the Euro2012 matches.
I have to confess that I just LOVE places like the Hotel Jarota because they have a sort of essential Polishness about them that cannot be explained. Just look at it:
The internationally famous – Hotel Jarocin
Even though you’ve never visited, you immediately know a few things about this place:
- It is possible that it was built post-communism but most likely it was built in the 70/80’s and originally intended as one of those “ośrodek rekreacyjny” where workers of one proud industry or another were able to go for a holiday in the country. The architecture & furniture will be exactly the same as can be found in every other hotel of that era.
- It is going to have a “Prezes” whose office will be massive (circa 40m2) with old fashioned furniture and a Pani sitting outside who’s good at making tea with lemon & honey. Trying to meet with the Prezes will be impossible because he’s such a busy man, although the office will look as if it has never been used and you’ll not find any papers on the desk. Of course, if he wants to meet you and then he’ll have all the time in the world. The Prezes will be wearing a slightly oddly-fitting suit with a waistcoat and shiny shoes but he won’t look comfortable in it. He’d prefer to be at his działka wearing dresy with adidasy. Apart from being the despot of this hotel complex, his influence is likely to extend into the surrounding area and the town of Jarocin itself. He will probably drive an expensive car. He will appear to be loved and feared in the same proportion. He will be very proud of what he has achieved with his sport-hotel complex but will have little idea about UEFA regulations or the world of the modern professional footballer outside of Poland, possibly even within Poland.
- A member of the Prezes’ family sells curved aluminium framed glazing panels suitable for creating curtain wall effects above hotel entrances!
- The Prezes’ favourite colour is orange.
- The bedrooms will have that kind of small towel-shaped cloth on the bed that I always pick up and wonder what the hell I’m supposed to do with it.
- The bathrooms are 60% likely to have those “push & squirt” soap dispensers next to the sink and in the shower.
- There will be some ghastly art on the walls.
- The hotel will be clean and generally well run. The restaurant will serve good food for a decent price and at least one dish will be served with “hunter’s sauce”.
In the fall, Poland will present UEFA with 30 to 35 locations to host teams for the coming games. The European Football Association will pick 16 of the best. Teams will then choose eight locations to stay in during the championships.
Does this mean all 30-35 get to dip their noses in the EU slush-fund or just the eight selected locations? Not sure how this is supposed to work but anyway – good luck to them all & may the best Prezes win!