LAUSANNE, Switzerland — World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) President Riccardo Fraccari today issued the following end-of-the-year address on behalf of the sport:
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
This past year showed that baseball and softball continue to gloablise, with the highest number of countries ever represented in the WBSC World Rankings. This is a strong and positive indication of the global activity and practice of our sport, which stages among the most, if not the most, national team international competitions per year than of any other sport.
Further signaling our sport’s global advancement and health, new baseball-softball and/or new urban Baseball5 construction projects have been announced or completed this year in Asia, Americas, Africa and Europe, in such places as France, Mozambique, Romania, Spain, Switzerland and Tanzania, as well as Argentina and Colombia in South America, to cite a few. Focusing on our mission to reach a billion people over the next decade, the past year had a particular focus on development. To this end, the launch our new urban 5-on-5 street discipline Baseball5 has witnessed interest and adoption behind our expectations, and for which we are going to present new exciting competitions and development opportunities for our members.
Over the last 12 months, baseball and softball grown stronger together, with mergers at the continental level. European leaders launched WBSC Europe and leaders in Oceania established WBSC Oceania, with a shared vision to boost growth, streamline administration and oversee all disciplines across their respective territories. The Softball Confederation of Asia rebranded into Softball Asia.
Putting this continued evolution into perspective, baseball/softball is the biggest sport that is not permanently a part of the Olympic Games. In this regard, we will continue to listen and learn from the International Olympic Committee to ensure that our sport aligns with and propagates Olympic values, following the guiding principles of the Olympic Agenda 2020 of IOC President Thomas Bach.
2019 will be the biggest and most important years in the history of international baseball and softball with our many international competitions leading to our flagship ever Premier12, which will build toward the historic return of our sport at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Softball in Fukushima will be the opening competition for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, and we must do everything we can from now until 2020 to support and show our solidarity with the IOC and Tokyo 2020 and their vision of harnessing the power of sport to bring hope, inspiration and joy to people in extremely challenging situations, not only in Fukushima but all over the world.
I congratulate everyone involved in the sport of baseball and softball — especially the athletes who are the stars who inspire the next generations to play and watch our sport — for growing our sport to record levels in 2018 and setting the stage for another record year next year.
And, on behalf of the WBSC Executive Board, the staff and in my name personally I take this opportunity to wish you all a serene holiday season.