2022 Year in Focus

2022 Year in Focus
30/12/2022
The year 2022 was an historic one for the WBSC with new projects launched both on and off the field.

The year 2022 was filled with many achievements by the World Baseball Softball Confederation and was headlined by the return to a full events calendar with new events also adding a special gloss to an action-packed year.

As WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari said in his end of year message, 2022 was certainly an historic year for the WBSC with the U-12, U-15, U-18 and U-23 Baseball World Cups, the Men’s and U-12 Mixed Gender Softball World Cups joined by the first ever editions of the Blind Baseball International Cup, the Virtual Cup and the spectacular Baseball5 World Cup.

WBSC Events Calendar 2022

Additionally, having baseball and softball showcased in multi-sports events like the Pacific Mini Games and The World Games this year is crucial as they help boost National Federation programmes and increase vital support from the National Olympic Committees.

These multi-sport events, including next year’s Asian Games in Hangzhou, China and the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, demonstrate the worldwide popularity of baseball and softball and how our sport and our athletes add important value and global appeal to these events.

Baseball5 World Cup

This year also saw the debut of the Baseball5 World Cup which took place in Mexico City in November. It was a great success, with some amazing results and new teams participating - Tunisia made its WBSC World Cup debut in Mexico, becoming the 79th nation/territory, and ninth African nation to feature in a WBSC event.

World Cup Appearances

The media engagement was particularly impressive with a partnership with TikTok and world class TV production, live broadcasting and streaming across multiple platforms, including the Olympic Channel.

We have seen Baseball5 go from strength to strength since its launch in 2017 with the aim to increase inclusivity and accessibility to sport and now the baseball and softball community is looking forward to Baseball5’s debut at the Youth Olympic Games in Dakar, 2026 and the first ever WBSC Youth Baseball5 World Cup in 2023.

The WBSC is putting a lot of effort into education and promotion of Baseball5 having produced a toolkit, which is already available in English, Spanish, German, Arabic and Albanian and is an excellent tool for schools.

The Baseball5 Toolkit is aligned with the UNESCO “Quality Physical Education” and the “Sport for Protection Toolkit” released by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Olympic Refuge Foundation.

It serves to help the young practitioner to develop not only physical skills, but also social and mental skills such as Social Cohesion, Social Inclusion and Psychosocial well-being, all with a Youth Involvement Approach.

ESport

The WBSC’s inaugural eSport event - the WBSC Virtual Cup – was another great success story of 2022 with the help of our partner Newdin. Open to the public, there were a record 8,146 entries in the opening round of this dynamic new event while the Finals in Korea provided an exciting glimpse into the future evolution of our latest discipline. The event was recorded and packaged into a TV show which will be aired on primetime television at the start of 2023.

Next year we look forward to working with another key partner KONAMI to do more exciting things in eSport including in the Olympic Esports Week. As a founding member, the WBSC will play a very important role in reinforcing the success of the inaugural event in 2021.

Sport For All

We also celebrated the first-ever Blind Baseball International Cup in Beek, Netherlands, which awarded the winner with the first ever WBSC braille trophy, and the signing of a MOU with VIRTUS – an international sports federation for athletes with intellectual impairment, both initiatives set to increase accessibility to our sport.

Meanwhile, Wheelchair Softball is a discipline the WBSC continues to promote and encourage through the National Federations and Continental Associations to increase their efforts in the development of our para-sport disciplines.

WBSC Congress

Gathering for the first time since the pandemic, the international baseball and softball community came together for the WBSC Congress in Taipei City. Having original scheduled for 2021, there were many key decisions including the re-election of Riccardo Fraccari as President for the 2022-2029 term and new Executive, Baseball and Softball Boards.

Congratulations to the new members ratified during the Congress - Bhutan, Cape Verde, Saudi Arabia, Tonga and the Babe Ruth League. The WBSC’s growing membership reflects the global development and evolution of baseball / softball which is played by approximately 65 million people across more than 140 countries and territories around the world.

WBSC Members

The WBSC Congress was also a great opportunity to reflect on the many significant achievements for the global baseball and softball community on and off the field, which are a symbol of how the WBSC never stops innovating, improving and creating occasions for people worldwide to engage and participate in sport.  

Good Governance

The WBSC 2022-28 Strategic Plan was unveiled earlier in the year to build on the WBSC’s existing nine goals. Aligned with the IOC’s Agenda 2020+5, it is a key tool for the WBSC’s continuous drive for growth and sustainable development.

The Integrity Code was also launched to enhance integrity and governance in the international baseball and softball community. The WBSC has made transparency, good governance and protecting clean and safe sport key priorities. Through the work of the Integrity Unit, the WBSC continues to ensure it is aligned with best practices, while also innovating to ensure it is always protecting fair play both on, and off, the field of play.

The WBSC’s progress in this area was reflected very positively in this year’s ASOIF Governance Review. The WBSC was the highest-ranked IF among ASOIF Associate Members reaching the A2 group by scoring above average for an IF of its size and resources. Overall, the WBSC’s score increase of 46 was the second largest across participating IFs where the average gain was 14 points.

Accentuating Athletes

The WBSC places great emphasis on the importance of athletes in the organisation and has increased athlete representation with eight elected athlete representative positions now across the WBSC Executive Board and Baseball and Softball Boards.

The WBSC Integrity Unit continued to implement the “Play Ball, Play Fair” campaign in 2022 as part of the WBSC Education Plan 2021-2024. Throughout the year, a number of free webinars were held covering the essentials of anti-doping and testing for National Federations in partnership with the International Testing Agency (ITA).

The WBSC also extended its partnership with the ITA as part of a commitment to protecting clean sport and clean athletes. This year, the WBSC placed a new emphasis on information-sharing, investigations, long-term sample storage and the confidential reporting of doping offences through the ITA platform REVEAL.

This is all done to ensure that the athletes, who are the heart and soul of our sport, have the opportunity to display sporting excellence on a fair and clean field of play.

The WBSC also announced a two-year partnership with Sportradar Integrity Services to enhance the sport’s protection against competition manipulation. Sportradar’s Universal Fraud Detection System, is now applied at every WBSC international competition, ensuring a level playing field.

Safeguarding, another critical topic for sport, has also been further strengthened as Athletes Commission members Randolph Oduber and Erika Polidori and Commission liaison Amy Park became certified IOC Safeguarding Officers.

The WBSC’s commitment to safeguarding is enshrined in the organisation’s Statutes aiming to ensure athletes have the right to compete and train without fear of discrimination, harassment and abuse – all of which have no place in sport or society.

Exciting 2023

There is much to look forward to 2023, including a number of baseball and softball age group World Cups and the debut of the new format for the WBSC Women’s Softball and Baseball World Cups. These will feature the group stage in 2023 before the finals in 2024, all with the aim of increasing opportunities for participation and hosting international baseball and softball events.

Add in some of the key partnerships formed in 2022 whith an eye to beginning in 2023 such as Corpay1, who have become the WBSC’s official Global FX (foreign currency exchange) Payments Provider and a new collaboration with VIRTUS, an International Sports Federation for athletes with intellectual impairment to help provide access to baseball and softball for more members of society,