When the world’s favourite sport attracts so many thousands of fans – most of them men – with a budget for high-energy fun, you can expect history’s favourite vice to crank up for business as well: prostitution.
Thousands of women in both countries hosting Euro 2012 will be participating in the party outside matches, only for them it is work. In Poland prostitution is tolerated, but procuring is illegal. In Ukraine both are outlawed.
One prostitute interviewed, calling herself Yulia, said: “I would like prostitution to become legal, so the police treat sex workers like normal people.”
Repression of the trade in Ukraine is of negligible effectiveness, according to reports from western government sources and NGOs.
Rights organisations continue to campaign to bring attention to the former soviet country as a major human trafficking source and transit hub.
The Ukrainian government’s estimate of how many women are involved in the sex business – forced or otherwise – is 12,000.
But the Kiev branch of the HIV-AIDS help Alliance says the figure is between 63,000 and 93,000.
Ukraine has the highest incidence of people with the sexually-transmitted virus in Europe: nearly 1.5 percent of the population – far higher among prostitutes.
Kostiantyn Pertsovskyi, spokesman for the International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine, said:“The fan who has intercourse without a condom is playing Russian roulette, well, Ukrainian roulette in this case. He might be lucky, or not.”
Governments try to be reassuring, but various associations have denounced an illicit migration-like concentration of prostitutes to football competition cities for years.
Kiev has said it is sure there will not be a negative impact from this on Euro 2012.
Interior Ministry official Oleh Matveitsov said: “Euro 2008 hosts Austria and Switzerland also expected sex tourism, but as it turned out the fans didn’t have the time for it. It was either football or beer.”
The Ukrainian protest group FEMEN, internationally known for fighting against sex tourism, so-called marriage agencies, sexism and other associated abuses has also been active against football-related phenomena.