By Angel Krasimirov
SOFIA, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Germany-based company IFS plans to spend 50 million euros ($68.77 million) on a new 33,000-capacity stadium in Sofia with the Bulgarian capital hoping to be among the European cities hosting matches at Euro 2020.
"Our intention is to build a facility of which all Bulgarians can be truly proud," IFS's representative for Bulgaria Iva Georgieva told Reuters on Thursday.
"It will give Bulgaria a very good chance to host Euro 2020 matches as it'll be a modern stadium, which will meet all UEFA's requirements. It should be ready in 2016."
Thirty-two countries, ranging from Azerbaijan to Finland and Macedonia, have declared an interest in hosting games at Euro 2020 which will be staged across the continent.
In a radical departure from the conventional format for major tournaments, UEFA decided last year to spread the tournament around its member associations to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the European Championship.
Georgieva said the stadium would be built in the Sofia district of Ovcha kupel, replacing the current Slavia stadium - home of Slavia Sofia, the oldest club in the Bulgarian capital.
Seven-times domestic champions Slavia and the Balkan country's national teams are expected to play home matches at the new stadium.
"Yes, the national team will play their matches at the new stadium, if built, as it will meet all the requirements set by UEFA," BFU press officer Pavel Kolev told Reuters.
Bulgaria's Socialist-led government is backing Sofia's bid to host Euro 2020 matches.
The final agreement for the construction of the stadium should be signed by April.
"We plan the facility to be part of our Euro 2020 bid," Kolev added.
Currently, Bulgaria play at the 43,200-capacity Vasil Levski national stadium, located in the centre of Sofia, but it needs to be renovated to meet UEFA criteria.
The former Yugoslavia is the only Balkan country to have hosted a European Championship finals. In 1976, the final four-team tournament was held in Belgrade and Zagreb.
IFS has been involved in the construction of several stadiums in Germany including Frankfurt's Commerzbank Arena, the Coface Arena in Mainz and Leipzig's Red Bull Arena.
($1 = 0.7271 euros) (Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Ken Ferris)
- Sports & Recreation