TIRANA, Jan 27 (Reuters) - Albania will decide in February who is to build a new soccer stadium in the capital Tirana, a precondition for the Balkan country to continue hosting international games.
FIFA and UEFA have allowed the Albanian soccer authorities to keep playing international matches in the old stadium in Tirana, on condition they come up with plans to build a new one.
After a four-year consultancy and bidding process, Albania will choose between France's Bouygues Batiment International and Italy's Serenissima Costruzioni to design, finance, build and operate the new stadium.
"By the end of February we shall decide who will be our preferred bidder and we shall continue the negotiations for the contract signature," Ardian Cani, the project leader for the new stadium, told Reuters on Monday.
The companies were asked to deliver a soccer-only stadium with 22,000 seats. The average construction cost before value added tax ranges from 45 to 48 million euros ($65.69 million), a major investment for one of Europe's poorest countries.
The soccer federation and UEFA will contribute 10 million euros ($13.69 million) and the government will add another 10 million. The builder will supply the bulk of the funding.
Soccer is the most popular sport in Albania and the national team is also supported by ethnic Albanians from the former Serbian province of Kosovo, who make up a majority of its population. (Reporting By Benet Koleka, Editing by Zoran Radosavljevic and David Evans)