ATHENS, Greece 31 January 2019 — The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) convened the first-ever East-South European Baseball Softball Summit today in Athens, Greece, host city of the first modern-day Olympic Games.

The gathering summoning European leaders was called to review and boost baseball and softball development in countries in Eastern and Southern Europe, considered key growth targets, as WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari is looking to grow baseball and softball into a major global sport and long-term Olympic sport.

“Currently, baseball and softball represent the biggest sport — with approximately 65 million athletes and 200 million fans in over 140 countries and territories – seeking a permanent place on the Olympic Programme,” WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari said. “The baseball and softball leaders here in Athens share a vision to grow our sport and develop a unified roadmap, and the knowledge and information that was reported by the National Federations today will be critical to our collective success and formulating an action plan and objectives, which include long-term Olympic status.”

Twenty-seven National Federations (NFs) participated in the summit, with each NF taking the floor to cite both the challenges and successes in increasing participation levels in their respective territory. The WBSC Development Commission, based on the reports from the NFs in Athens, has been mandated to outline a strategic development plan — incorporating it into the overall Olympic/Global strategy — to present to the WBSC Executive Committee for review and potential approval.

WBSC was represented at the summit by in the meeting by President Riccardo Fraccari, Softball Division Chairman Tommy Velazquez, Treasurer Angelo Vicini and Executive Director Michael Schmidt. WBSC Europe was represented by co-chairs Didier Seminet and Gabriel Waage.

The East-South European Baseball Softball Summit will be followed by the WBSC Europe Baseball Softball Congress, which will be staged at the same location on Friday, 1 February.