Italy will today find out whether they have won the race to host the 2012 European Championship Finals.
Italy are short-listed for the event and will face competition via joint bids from Poland-Ukraine and Croatia-Hungary.
Delegates of all three organising teams arrived yesterday at Cardiff's St David's Hotel and UEFA’s Executive Committee heard presentations from all three candidates. A final decision will be announced at 10.30am on Wednesday at the Assembly Rooms in the City Hall.
The Committee, presided by new UEFA President Michel Platini, will base its decision on the assessment of the documentation presented by the national federations, containing information on transport, infrastructures, legal conditions, accommodation and security.
The Executive Committee will then vote by secret ballot, with a quorum of eight members required for validity, while an absolute majority – over half the votes – is needed for victory.
If no absolute majority is reached in the first ballot, the bidder with the least votes will be excluded and a second ballot will take place with the remaining two candidates.
The latest reports suggest that Italy are slightly favoured in the race, despite the last ‘annus horribilis’ for Italian football.
"We hope that the negativity is compensated by Italy's strong will to bounce back, because this country is still a reference point for world football – as we showed at Germany 2006," said Italian Football Federation President Giancarlo Abete. "We're relying on Italy's tradition prevailing over countries that have never hosted big sporting events."
The recent problems with violence at matches looked to have dented Italy's chances of hosting the finals. But Luca Pancalli, the former extraordinary commissioner for the Italian Football Federation, said: "I am optimistic."
All professional and amateur football was suspended in Italy in February after a policeman was killed at a Serie A match between Catania and Palermo. There was also violence during Roma's Champions League quarter-final against Manchester United at the Stadio Olimpico.
But Pancalli is confident that measures to prevent more trouble are now in place. Stewards will take charge of security inside stadiums and leave police in control of fans outside.
"Paradoxically, I would have had many more doubts if what has happened had not taken place," added Pancalli. "We have never doubted. Firstly, because violence is not a problem inherent only in Italian football. There have been problems elsewhere.
"Added to that, the political classes, the Olympic Committee (CONI) and the federation have responded seriously and quickly, like never before."
Poland and Ukraine's bid has also been hit by problems - with Ukraine in the midst of a political crisis and Poland's football authorities recovering from a corruption scandal.
"The events in Kiev certainly don't help us but there's no need to panic. Ukraine will have democratic elections and the situation will become stable again," said Poland's Sports Minister Tomasz Lipiec. "The fact that we have launched an anti-corruption campaign can only work in our favour.
"You can also talk about unstable governments in Italy, as well as corruption in football. Plus they have a hooligan problem. Hungary also has political stability issues, while there's a problem with stadium security in Croatia."
And Hungary and Croatia remain confident about their chances. "I am certain we will win the right to host," said president of the Croatian Football Association Vlatko Markoviction. "I was there at the previous presentations of bids and we fared the best. While we arrived with one thousand pages of material, others only had a thin booklet to show."
Hungary's Euro 2012 project manager Tamas Gyarfas added: "Italy is a football powerhouse, they are world champions, but I hope this race will be won by the candidate with the best bid."
Marcello Lippi, who bossed Italy to their fourth World Cup title in Germany last summer, and legend Gigi Riva are in the Welsh capital as part of the Italian bid.
If the tournament does go to the peninsula, three new venues in Naples, Palermo and Turin would be built. Other host cities would be Rome, Milan, Florence, Udine and Bari. Standby venues included Bologna, Cagliari, Genoa and Verona, but these will not be used as UEFA have decided not to extend the number of teams from 16 to 24 for Euro 2012.
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