The cities of Bologna and Parma both hosted a pre-tournament press conference for the WBSC Baseball Europe Africa Qualifying Event for the Games of the XXXII Olympiad Tokyo 2020.
WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari attended both press conferences.
“Bologna and Parma are baseball capitals. I had no doubt when I presented their candidature to WBSC Executive Board. I was positive they were going to host a great event. The Emilia Romagna Region is the powerhouse of baseball in Italy.”
Fraccari highlighted to the press the fact that for the first time in Europe there will be in use game clocks and also will be implemented the procedure for on-field reviews of umpire calls: “Game clocks help us speed up the pace of play and they have been a success so far. The managers will have a challenge at their disposal.”
Both Local Organizing Committees (LOCs) expressed their satisfaction for hosting such a high profile event. Massimo Fochi (Parma) and Pierluigi Bissa (Bologna) also agreed on the fact that it’s important, for the development of the game in Italy and Europe, that traditional rivals on the field could cooperate to the organization of the Olympic Qualifier.
Matteo Lepore, Sports Commissioner of the City of Bologna, said that organizing the event was a challenge, “we wanted to prove we can do, after Bologna had such a great season, winning both the Italian League and the European Champions Cup.”
Marco Bosi, Deputy Mayor and Sports Commissioner of the City of Parma, added: “Our Region recognizes the value of high profile events. Italy lost a great chance when the Nation withdrew from the bid to host the 2024 Olympics. We will have the chance of the 2026 Winter Olympics and Parma and Bologna want to show how this Country can organize events.”
“I’m glad Parma could host such an event,” said the Mayor Federico Pizzarotti “we invested a lot in a massive renovation of the playing field, that includes a new scoreboard. The credit also goes to former Mayors of Parma, who gave this city a baseball stadium that fits the standards of international baseball.”
The six managers attended the press conference in Parma.
It’s not difficult to recognize the three-time defending European Champions The Netherlands as the team to beat.
Manager Evert Jan ‘t Hoen admitted: “We are here to win. I am aware I have a strong team, but I think what really is our strength is the fact that their players do help each other on the field.”
Spain lost the semifinal of the European Championship against the Dutch, 1-0.
Manager and former World Series winner Luis Sojo said: “I want to congratulate The Netherlands. Italy and Israel also looked like very difficult teams to beat. It will be tough, but we will give it a try.”
Sojo said that Spain will add a player to the roster, but would not say more.
Gilberto Gerali, the manager of the hosts Italy was more open: “We will add pitcher Pat Venditte and infielder Gavin Cecchini. I think we have a strong team, with no weaknesses. Winning is not going to be easy, but I believe we have a fair chance.”
Eric Holtz, the manager for Israel, said that offence is the strength of his team: “We do have power, but our real strength is our approach at-bat. These players won’t chase bad pitches.”
Mike Griffin is the manager of the Czech Republic: “We can count on a deeper roster, in comparison to previous years. We added some good prospects, that are going to help us. We will try to win.”
Last but not least, the manager of South Africa Neil Adonis said: “It’s a real honour for us to be representing Africa. We know European National Teams well, we have faced them many times and I realize they are more experienced than we are. We improved the roster that won the African Championship and came here to compete.”
The OFFICIAL WEBPAGES of the Qualifier