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EURO 2012 wrap: Ukraine promised big payday

KIEV, Ukraine, June 6 – Ukrainian football’s chief Grigory Surkis said on Wednesday the Ukrainian players would be well-rewarded for succeeding at Euro 2012 which they are co-hosting with Poland, local media reported Wednesday.

“We have a better prize fund than any other team at the European championships,” Ukraine’s football supremo was quoted as saying.

“The team will receive 500,000 euro for every win at the group stage, while a draw will bring the squad 250,000 euro.”

Surkis added that the team will get a two million euro bonus for making the knockout stages and the same amount for reaching the semi-finals.

If Ukraine’s team make it to the final they will earn three million euros and 4.5 million euros for winning the title.

Referees appointed for first Euro 2012 matches

Carlos Velasco Carballo from Spain will take charge of the first match of Euro 2012 between co-hosts Poland and Greece, European football’s governing body UEFA said on Wednesday.

The tournament curtain-raiser kicks off in the Polish capital Warsaw at 6:00 pm local time (1600 GMT) and will be followed by the second Group A game between Russia and the Czech Republic in Wroclaw.

England’s Howard Webb – who refereed the ill-tempered 2010 World Cup final – will be in the middle for that game.

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UEFA said in a statement that Damir Skomina of Slovenia will officiate the Netherlands first game in Group B against Denmark on Saturday in Kharkiv, Ukraine, while Stephane Lannoy of France will take charge of the Germany-Portugal match in Lviv.

Twelve referees have been appointed to handle the 31 matches in the tournament. They will work with 24 assistant referees and 24 additional assistant referees of the same nationality.

Italy, Dutch teams visit Auschwitz

Players from Italy and the Netherlands, in Poland for the European football championship, on Wednesday visited the former Nazi German death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, an AFP reporter said.

Members of the Azzurri, who are based in the southern city of Krakow for the tournament, arrived by bus at the site where 1.3 million people, the overwhelming majority of them Jews, perished during World War II.

Dressed in blue and white team tracksuits, they visited the barracks, the wall where prisoners were shot before going to the gas chambers in nearby Birkenau three kilometres (two miles) away and the crematorium where victims’ bodies were burned.

They then placed a commemorative wreath inscribed with the words “Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio” — Italian football federation — at the memorial.

The Dutch players, wearing jeans and navy blue jackets, made the same tour of the camp, which was set up in 1940 by the Nazi regime in occupied Poland, some 70 kilometres west of Krakow.

A delegation from the German football federation, including coach Joachim Loew, team manager Oliver Bierhoff, captain Philipp Lahm and Polish-born players Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski, visited the Auschwitz museum last Friday.

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Euro 2012 is being co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine. Poland play the first match against Greece on Friday in Warsaw while the final is held in the Ukrainian capital Kiev on July 1.

Some 1.3 million people, including 1.1 million Jews from across Nazi-occupied Europe, died in Auschwitz between 1940 and its liberation by the Soviet Red Army on January 27, 1945.

Auschwitz was set up in a former Polish army base by the Nazis shortly after they invaded Poland in 1939 and was initially used to detain and kill Poles seen as a pool of resistance to their occupation.

It was gradually expanded to Birkenau and became the hub for the Holocaust.

The site was turned into a Polish state-funded memorial and museum after the war.

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