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Italy approaching Euro 2012 vote with cautious optimism

The delegation behind Italy's bid for the 2012 European Championship departed for this week's vote Monday with cautious optimism.

UEFA's executive committee will name the host Wednesday in Cardiff, Wales, with joint bids from Poland-Ukraine and Croatia-Hungary also in contention.

Italian soccer federation president Giancarlo Abete noted that Italy was the favorite in November 2005 when Greece and Turkey were eliminated from the running.

"But a lot of things have happened since then," Abete said.

A match-fixing scandal and serious episodes of violence have affected Italian soccer in the past year.

"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 soccer - as we showed at Germany 2006," Abete said.

Marcello Lippi, the coach who led Italy to its fourth World Cup title in Germany last year, is a member of Italy's delegation to Cardiff.

Eight cities are included in Italy's bid.

Like the 1990 World Cup, the opening game would be at Milan's San Siro stadium and the final at Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Semifinals would be held in Naples and Milan, with games also in Turin, Udine, Florence, Bari and Palermo.

"We're relying on Italy's tradition prevailing over countries that have never hosted big sports events," Abete said.

Last week, Abete visited with UEFA president Michel Platini, who could decide the vote if it ends in a tie.