Lots to fear during Euro tourney
Security guards detain a demonstrating activist from a women's rights organization protesting against prostitution near the Euro trophy during its unveiling in Kiev, Ukraine, on May 12, 2012. (Gleb Garanich/Reuters/Files)
It is a soccer tournament that promises more problems than the 2010 World Cup in South Africa along with a much better on-field product.
Euro 2012 starts Friday in Poland followed the next day by games in Ukraine.
The fear factor list is extensive and judging by the difficulty in arranging everything from flights to hotel rooms to price gouging to train travel, especially between the two countries, that list may be justified.
This is not unusual. If people believed every horror story told before the start of a major soccer tournament held in a country that wasn't part of the G8, no tournament would be successful.
The World Cup in Africa was going to be rife with crime, infrastructure issues, transportation woes.
The only thing it was plagued by in general was lousy soccer and vuvuzelas that are still ringing in my ears.
Whether by design or good fortune, probably a little of both, the South African World Cup ran like clockwork with few issues.
UEFA has its finger's crossed that the roulette wheel for Euro 2012 lands on a winning number because right now, this tournament could turn out to be a disaster, especially in Ukraine.
It began early when leaders of several European nations indicated they would not attend games in Ukraine because of the detainment and treatment of its former leader.
That was followed quickly by a warning from England's black players that travelling to Ukraine was dangerous because of racism.
UEFA president Michel Platini has called Ukrainian hotel keepers "bandits and crooks" for jacking up rates to stay in their establishments. Many are asking 1,500 Euros for a minimum required three-day stay.
English fans, who along with the Dutch and Germans are usually the best travelers, are staying home in droves. Only about 3,000 are expected to attend the England games.
Then there is the usual fear-mongering about waiting lines at border crossings of up to 10 hours; improved roads which are still under construction; and scalpers buying up train tickets to sell at inflated prices.
It is difficult to assess how much is true and how much will actually come into play. That will only be discovered when everyone hits the ground running.
On the pitch, this could well be a tournament that provides nothing but surprises. Teams that are traditionally among the favoured like the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Spain have either gone down to defeat in pre-tournament games or have not played well.
It may also be a maelstrom of uncertainty because the weeks leading up to Euro have seen top players succumbing to injury and illness. It is a substantial list. With a compacted tournament and plenty of travel, the winners of the event may be the team that is the healthiest.
The quality of play is the one thing that can be counted on at Euro. It is usually high quality, riveting stuff that provides storylines on a daily basis. There is no opportunity to take time off.
The early games include Spain/Italy, Germany/Portugal, Netherlands/Denmark, England/France, Netherlands/Germany. A team that loses any of those games is immediately in trouble and is forced to look for a result in their next game.
That means more desperation football, more attacking football and as proven in Euro 2008, an awful lot of wickedly entertaining finishes.
It's the kind of tournament that could easily see someone other than Spain, Germany or the Netherlands win it all. Those three are the most heavily favoured.
Keep your fingers crossed that this Euro follows the pattern of most other Euros when it comes to enthralling football.
If just a small fraction of the problems that are predicted, strike Euro 2012 the tournament will need the highest calibre football possible to ease some of the suffering.