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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 June 2007, 21:47 GMT 22:47 UK
Polish inmates may build stadiums
By Adam Easton
BBC News, Warsaw

Tenth Anniversary stadium in Warsaw, Poland
Many of Poland's football stadiums are in poor shape
Poland is considering using up to 20,000 prisoners to help build the roads and stadiums it needs to co-host the Euro 2012 football championship.

Pawel Nasilowski, deputy head of Poland's prison service, said it could form part of a European Union-funded programme to rehabilitate prisoners.

Poland is suffering from a shortage of construction workers as many have left for better-paid jobs in western Europe.

Poland will jointly hold the tournament with neighbouring Ukraine.

Big challenges

Mr Nasilowski said arrangements were already being made to allow the use of prison labour in the multi-million dollar construction projects needed for the championship.

In a move that surprised many, European football's governing body, Uefa, announced in April that Poland and Ukraine would co-host the 2012 tournament.

Neither country has hosted a major football championship before and they face big challenges.

The crumbling, communist-era stadiums fall far short of Uefa standards and there is a severe lack of hotels and roads.

Several grounds are to be built from scratch.

Mr Nasilowski said the prisoners would travel in convoys to construction sites under armed guard.

Prisoners have worked in the community for many years in Poland, but never on such a prestigious project.

But demand for convict labour has grown in recent years. That is partly due to the shortages caused by workers moving abroad to take up much higher-paid jobs.

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