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Ukraine denounces a threatened EU boycott of next month’s Euro 2012 football championship as “destructive”.

In a statement, Ukraine’s foreign ministry said the move would undermine the image of the tournament and be detrimental to millions of Ukrainians and Poles.

Poland – which is co-hosting Euro 2012 – has also criticized any boycott.

Several European leaders are considering cancelling their trips to Ukraine, in protest over the treatment of jailed former PM Yulia Tymoshenko.

Yulia Tymoshenko, who is on hunger strike, alleges she was beaten by prison guards.

The statement from the Ukrainian foreign ministry said sport events were designed to bring unity, and criticized what it said were attempts to politicize them.

“We view as destructive attempts to politicize sporting events, which since ancient times have played a paramount role in improving understanding and agreement between nations,” the statement said.

“A successful championship will be a victory not for politicians, parties or ideologies, but for all Ukrainians and Poles. Its failure will be a loss for millions,” it said.

Ukraine denounces a threatened EU boycott of next month's Euro 2012 football championship as "destructive"

Ukraine denounces a threatened EU boycott of next month's Euro 2012 football championship as "destructive"

Austria has said it will boycott all the matches in Ukraine, while the Netherlands said it will not attend unless Yulia Tymoshenko’s treatment improves.

On Thursday, EU officials said European Commissioner Jose Manuel Barroso would not be attending.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is also reported to be considering boycotting the event, while the UK says it is undecided on whether to attend.

Meanwhile, five European presidents – from Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy and Slovenia – have said they will not attend a Ukrainian summit of Central and East European leaders next week in Yalta.

In an attempt to ratchet up the pressure further, Germany earlier said the EU is prepared to delay a trade agreement with Ukraine.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said that “with our EU partners we are unanimous that the EU Association Agreement with Ukraine cannot be ratified as long as the rule of law in Ukraine does not develop in the right direction”.

But Ukraine’s deputy prime minister has said Euro 2012 is on track and UEFA – European football’s governing body – had not complained.

“The tournament is ready and on 11 May we will be transferring the control of the four stadia to UEFA.”

Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister, was jailed last year for abuse of office, in a trial condemned by the West as politically motivated.

She is an arch-rival of Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych, who beat her to the presidency in February 2010, avenging his defeat in the 2004 Orange Revolution.

The opening games of the month-long Euro 2012 will be played on 9 June.



How was sports betting invented?

Nowadays, it is hard to imagine the existence of sporting events without sports betting; this is because sports betting has a long and colorful history which runs parallel with the development of sport around the world.

The roots of sports betting in general can be traced back to the sport of kingshorse racing. It was at the horse racing tracks that the first steps towards what we now know as organized sports betting were made. Throughout the 19th Century and into the early 20th Century, members of the upper class enjoyed small wagers and bets on the outcomes of certain races within the regular gatherings and race meetings.

It was after the Civil War that horse racing tracks started appearing in larger numbers across the landscape; this, in turn, attracted a great many betters and would-be entrepreneurs from all over the country.

The idea of the bookmaker started at these race meetings, where bookmakers would organise auction pools. These auction pools saw bets auctioned off for each horse within the race.

During this time, particularly business-savvy individuals were starting to realise that setting the odds on individual horses could serve to improve the betting handles meaning better business for the bookies.

Online betting

The origins of online betting

This spawned a technique that is still used within bookmaking to this very day: If there was an overwhelming amount of money being wagered on one particular horse (giving an overpowering indication that it was the favourite to win), then the bookmaker would simply lower the odds on that particular horse, thereby increasing the attractiveness of betting on other horses within the race, this process became known as shortening the odds, with the opposite being known as lengthening the odds.

Although sports betting has moved into every conceivable betting market, its origins can still be traced back to the racetracks.