ROME, Italy — The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) is announcing the launch of two new Softball World Cups: the U-15 Women’s Softball World Cup and the U-23 Men’s Softball World Cup.

The two new national team global tournaments will be first staged in 2021 and be positioned as the highest-level softball competitions in their respective age-categories, with the winners officially earning the title of World Champion.

The WBSC Softball Division Board met at the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) headquarters in Rome on 17 November and approved various measures to boost the new Softball World Cup brand and further leverage the sport’s popularity among youth, following a previous decision to restructure the Softball World Championships into Softball World Cups.

“Softball is practiced by millions of young people in over 140 countries and the launch of these two new pinnacle international softball competitions marks another historic milestone in the evolution and growth of the sport of softball,” said WBSC Softball Division Chairman Tommy Velazquez.

“These two new Softball World Cups to be launched in 2021 will help capture the momentum from softball’s Olympic return at the Tokyo 2020 Games, where it is anticipated that baseball and softball will be amongst the most popular and followed sports,” said WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari.

“WBSC is continuously looking at ways to evolve the format of our sports and competitions so that we remain relevant amongst the next generation of sports fans. The changes agreed in Rome are a fundamental part of that process,” said Fraccari.

In addition to the launch of the new Softball World Cups, the Board voted to shift from a U-19 to a U-18 age bracket for the respective junior Softball World Cups for men and women.

ROAD TO THE SOFTBALL WORLD CUPS

Softball World Cups will be 12-team tournaments in the male categories and for the U-15 Women’s Softball World Cup. The flagship Women’s Softball World Cup and the U-18 Women’s Softball World Cup will feature a 16-team format. Nations and their top players will earn the right to compete in the Softball World Cups through a Continental Championship qualifying process, with the following global allocations:

Male Softball World Cups and U-15 Women’s – 12 National Teams:

  • Africa: One (1)
  • Asia: Two (2)
  • Americas: Four (4)
  • Europe: Two (2)
  • Oceania:  Two (2)
  • Wild Card: One (1)

Flagship Women’s Softball World Cup and U-18 Women’s – 16 National Teams:

  • Africa: Two (2)
  • Asia: Three (3)
  • Americas: Five (5)
  • Europe: Three (3)
  • Oceania: Two (2)
  • Wild Card: One (1)

WILD CARDS AWARDED

The Board awarded Netherlands a wild card for the final U-19 Women’s Softball World Cup 2019 in Irvine, California. From the next edition in 2020, this competition will be converted into the U-18 category and staged every two years.

Cuba was awarded a wild card for the final Men’s Softball World Championship 2019 in Prague, Czech Republic. This event will be restructured into the Men’s Softball World Cup and launched in 2021.