Don't boycott Euro in Ukraine, urges Klitschko

Ukrainian world boxing champion Vitali Klitschko has urged western politicians not to follow appeals for a boycott of June's European championships in his homeland, but instead come to Euro 2012 matches.

Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych is coming under increasing political pressure over the imprisonment of the former opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, with governments of EU countries threatening to boycott Euro 2012.

But Klitschko, the WBC heavyweight champion, says any focus on the European championships from the world's media will also draw some attention to any abuses going on in his country.

"Your displeasure at the violation of human rights would then speak directly to the Ukrainian rulers," Klitschko told German news magazine Focus.

"That would definitely be more effective than to boycott the football championships."

Euro 2012, to be co-hosted by Poland and the Ukraine, kicks off on June 8 with the final to be held in Kiev on July 1 with matches also being hosted in the Ukrainian cities of Lviv, Donetsk and Kharkiv.

Philipp Lahm, the captain of Germany's football team, has already criticised the Ukrainian government's treatment of Tymoshenko and says the political situation in the former Eastern Bloc country is of huge concern.

Germany, among the Euro 2012 title favourites, will play all three of their opening games in the Ukraine.

Both their Group B games against Portugal on June 9 and June 13 against the Netherlands will be held in Kharkiv, where Tymoshenko is being held.

Both Germany and Russia have offered to treat Tymoshenko, but Yanukovych has so far shown no sign of wanting to make concessions, saying he cannot interfere in the legal process.

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