File photo: A soccer stadium in Libya
Libya plans to invest 400 million dinars ($314 million) on building stadiums this year as it prepares to host the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, the deputy prime minister said, amid hopes that soccer can unify the country after its 2011 war.
"Just like Nelson Mandela unified South Africa, we hope to unify Libya under this cup," Libyan Deputy Prime Minister Awad Ibrahim Elbarasi told Reuters on Thursday.
"We will resume construction of these stadiums in June and have asked the government for a budget of 400 million dinars to build 11 stadiums this year."
Last month, Libya said it would use all its resources to ensure that it kept the right to host the 2017 finals.
The North African country had originally been scheduled to host the 2013 Nations Cup but precarious security saw it swap with South Africa, who had been down for the 2017 event.
Libya plans to build a new 60,000 seater stadium for the hosting of the 2017 African Nations Cup finals, Sports Minister Abdussalam Guaila told local media this month.
A second stadium for the tournament, seating 23,000 spectators, is planned for the coastal city of Misrata. Matches would also be held in the eastern city of Benghazi, Libya's second biggest city, the Libya news agency reported.
Hosting the African Nations Cup finals would allow Libya to demonstrate that life has returned to normal in the country and encourage investors, Elbarasi said.
He added that Libya's interior ministry was taking all necessary measures to ensure safety and security in the country, still awash with weapons left over from the 2011 uprising that ousted Muammar Gaddafi.
"The security situation is exaggerated from reality. We're actually in a much better position than many of our neighbours," he said.
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports)