Poland, Greece Tie in Euro 2012 Football Championship

Posted June 8th, 2012 at 2:30 pm (UTC-5)
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Poland and Greece have battled to a 1-1 draw in the opening match of the Euro 2012 football championship series.

The two teams squared off Friday at 100,000-seat National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland.

Poland took a 1-0 lead on a header by Robert Lewandowski in the 17th minute. But Greece's Dimitris Salpingidis knocked in a loose ball in the 51st minute to tie the game.

Russia and the Czech Republic play in the other match on Friday.

Poland and Ukraine are co-hosting the 16-nation championship, which will be decided on July 1 in Kyiv and is being played under a cloud of controversy.

Prominent political leaders in some European Union member states had threatened to boycott the event due to Ukraine's treatment of former prime minister and opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.

Ms. Tymoshenko is serving a seven-year jail sentence after being convicted of abuse of office in a 2009 gas deal with Russia. She is now standing trial on tax evasion charges, which could extend her prison time to 12 years.

She denies the charges, and Western nations say they are politically motivated.

Ms. Tymoshenko says the charges are part of a campaign by Ukraine's president, Viktor Yanukovych, to remove his strongest political rival.

She recently went on a nearly three-week hunger strike after saying she had been beaten by prison guards.

The former prime minister had experienced chronic back pain, but Ukraine's government has refused to let her travel to Germany for medical treatment.