Poland and Ukraine have been chosen to co-host the European Championship soccer tournament in 2012. Governing body UEFA said they had been selected ahead of Italy and another joint bid from Croatia and Hungary.
The decision comes despite a political crisis in Ukraine and a refugee corruption scandal in Poland. Their fortunes improved after Warsaw sacked its football association and Ukraine's president said the political crisis would be resolved peacefully.
The Poland and Ukraine bid received eight votes to Italy's four. Croatia and Hungary got none. It is the first time either country has been chosen to host a major tournament.
"There are 85 million people now waiting for this big football event," Polish FA chairman Michal Listkiewicz said after UEFA president Michel Platini had revealed the winner.
"The friendship between our nations has a very long history. This big tournament will be an important milestone in the history of our two Slavic nations."
Ukraine president Viktor Yushchenko said in a statement that the decision offered a great opportunity to both countries to host an "extraordinary" sporting event.
"Holding the 2012 European championship will be a wonderful opportunity for Ukrainians and Poles to welcome the best representatives of Europe's soccer family and produce an extraordinary sporting event," he said.
"Ukraine and Poland are capable of upholding the highest standards in staging such an important event.
"Ukraine and Poland will be able to show millions of fans the unforgettable charm of their cities and the history they have preserved so beautifully and put on display of Slav hospitality and culture," said Yushchenko.
The projected Polish venues for the tournament include Gdansk, Poznan, Warsaw and Wroclaw while the Ukrainian cities of Kiev, Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk and Lviv would stage games, Reuters reports.
But concerns still remain about the shortage of high-quality hotels and poor transport infrastructure in both Poland and Ukraine.
Italy, which has hosted two European Championships and two World Cups, also had its campaign tainted by a series of off-field problems.
A widescale match-fixing scandal in Serie A last year was followed by the death of policeman when soccer fans rioted in Catania. Earlier this month, accusations of brutality were leveled at Rome police after clashes with Manchester United fans at a Champions League match against AS Roma.
"The scandal was an embarrassment for world soccer," Italian delegation member Luigi Riva said.
But Italy sports minister Giovanna Melandri insisted these problems didn't cost her country the vote, the AP reports.
Prepared by Alexander Timoshik
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