After struggling to overcome doubts about its readiness for European Championship 2012, co-host Ukraine's preparations have been overshadowed by a boycott sparked by its treatment of jailed ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko.
The furore over Tymoshenko, which has led a string of west European countries to say their leaders will not attend matches in Ukraine, comes on the back of security fears caused by a bombing and worries that fans will shun the tournament due to sky-high accommodation prices and unfinished roads.
Pressed to speak out, European football's governing body UEFA has reaffirmed its longstanding no-politics stance but nonetheless asked Ukrainian tournament organisers to pass on concerns over Tymoshenko to the government.
Tymoshenko, an icon of Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution and arch-rival of Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych, was jailed for seven years last October on charges of abuse of power, after a trial bitterly criticised by the West as appearing politically motivated.
Already a thorn in Ukraine's relations with the European Union, her case became a cause celebre linked to Euro 2012, after she went on hunger strike last month, claiming she had been beaten by prison guards.
In the face of the criticism, Kiev has been unbowed, preferring to focus on preparations for the tournament, which kicks off in a month's time in co-host nation Poland on June 8 and ends on July 1 with the final it to be held in the Ukraine.
"UEFA has made no serious criticism about Ukraine," Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Borys Kolesnikov, the country's Euro pointman, told AFP.
"The tournament is ready and on May 11 we will be transferring the control of the four stadia to UEFA," he added, declining to comment specifically on the boycott threats.
As the row threatens to tarnish the first-ever edition of the quadrennial tournament behind the former Iron Curtain, Poland, which since the collapse of communism in the region two decades ago has become a vocal human rights watchdog, has argued against a boycott of its neighbour.
Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski, himself a communist-era dissident, dubbed the stay-away calls "completely inappropriate", contrasting them with the boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics sparked by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Underlining the message, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said he understood the desire to stand with Tymoshenko, but that "nothing is stopping us from showing this solidarity clearly and strongly during the sporting event itself".
Beyond the Tymoshenko case, security concerns have been fuelled by a series of bomb blasts on April 27 in the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipropetrovsk that injured 30 people.
Dnipropetrovsk is not among the eight host cities - four each in Poland and Ukraine - of the two nations' first major international sports event.
However, on May 21 it is to host a stop in tour that is giving fans a chance to see the tournament trophy, currently in Poland and due to arrive in the Ukrainian capital Kiev on May 11.
The hunt is still on for the bombings' unknown perpetrators, but UEFA has said it has received clear security guarantees from Ukraine for teams and fans alike.
But another worry for supporters is their wallets, as national team managers prepare to announce squads for the tournament.
Last month, UEFA chief Michel Platini blasted "crooks" in Ukraine's tourist sector for hiking accommodation prices, amid a mismatch between supply and demand.
For example, two berths in a huge tent in the eastern city of Donetsk were selling online for $160 for the June 27 semi-final.
Such prices have stoked fears that fans will stay away, underlined by the unprecedented failure to sell out matches to England's normally ardent fans for its group games in Donetsk.
As the tournament nears, however, the situation seems to be improving, with youth hostel beds in Donetsk now going for $27 a night on that date.
But there is a last-minute rush to open new airport terminals in Donetsk and Kiev, due this month, and concerns linger about the readiness of Ukraine's aging highways.
UEFA president Michel Platini said preparations for Euro 2016 were "progressing well" after a meeting of the organising committee in Lille.