UEFA President Michel Platini has visited Albania for talks on football development in the country.
Mr Platini met with Albania's Prime Minister Edi Rama, the president of the Football Association of Albania (FShF), Armand Duka, and other senior association officials. Talks centred on how Albania can spread football through its schools, and the country's preparations to use the Ruzhdi Bizhuta Stadium in Elbasan for UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying matches while the Qemal Stafa Stadium in Tirana undergoes full reconstruction.
"For me, it is always a pleasure to welcome Mr Platini to Albania," said Mr Rama. "I consider him a friend, who is constantly attentive to the progress of football in Albania, and who is constantly willing to help.
"Today we met and discussed the preparations for the national team's next season," he added. "We are convinced that in September we can give our national team a stadium with a nice image and with all the requirements needed to play our home games in the [EURO] qualifiers. The Ruzhdi Bizhuta Stadium in Elbasan will be ready."
Mr Platini was accompanied on his latest visit to Albania by special adviser to the UEFA Executive Committee Fernando Gomes, UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino and UEFA national associations director and deputy general secretary Theodore Theodoridis.
After his meeting with Mr Rama, Mr Platini expressed his satisfaction about the progress that football has made in Albania in recent years. "We think that football in Albania is in safe hands," he said. "I believe this because the Prime Minister and the association's president Armand Duka are two people who love football. Knowing them for many years, I have a good feeling about what they want to do." The UEFA President said that the stadium work being undertaken in the country would help create a new vision for Albanian football.
"Another very important subject that we talked about with the Prime Minister is a new development regarding the introduction of football at every school level," Mr Platini continued. "This is a very good move. UEFA will help with the basic equipment and material, and provide various experts, to help the development of football in Albania. Then, it is up to Albania to create great champions. It is also important that its youngsters and children have fun with football."
During his stay in Albania, Mr Platini also visited the FShF headquarters, where he was introduced to association staff members and saw the new Museum of Albanian Football.
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