III WBSC Congress showcases baseball, softball as true global sport, says President Fraccari

III WBSC Congress showcases baseball, softball as true global sport, says President Fraccari
Following the first-ever WBSC Congress in Tunisia in 2014 and the second in Botswana in 2017, World Baseball Softball Confederation President Riccardo Fracarri looks back at a successful third Congress for the WBSC, which was held in Sakai City, Japan from November 19-21.

"I am very pleased to say the third WBSC Congress in the city of Sakai, Japan was an overwhelming success with a great number of important contributions from the members and the international baseball and softball community.

Having our members under the same roof at this very important time, provides the perfect platform for discussion, engagement and a sharing of ideas. We held for the first time Open Workshops on the eve of the Congress. It was all about empowering the federations and I’m very pleased to say there was tremendous interest. WBSC wants to make sure the national federations have the right tools to be able to help grow the game of baseball and softball in their regions.

The key role of the international sports governing body is also to make sure all its members have equal opportunities to organise tournaments, grow their player base and develop sport. I’m proud to say WBSC is on the right track. We had a record number of events (17) in 2018 and 2019.

One of our major objectives is to globalise our sport. International competitions help in this process, especially events like the Premier12, which finished last week in Tokyo. Congratulations to the Samurai Japan players, the Baseball Federation of Japan and Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) for winning the Premier12, which reached millions of views and helped drive in new fans all around the world.

I’m also proud that our Executive Committee also confirmed Peru as the host of the first-ever U-18 Women’s Softball World Cup next year, as well as three tournaments in Mexico and two key events in Taiwan, including the 2021 Congress, which was subsequently approved by the Congress.

Looking ahead to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, being the first event to be played at the Games definitely illustrates the popularity of our sport. Baseball and softball will be some of the biggest properties at Tokyo 2020, and with the expected sold-out crowds, we will have another great opportunity to put our sport in the spotlight and showcase to the International Olympic Committee the added value our sport brings to the Games. We will also be giving the chance to the public to have a close-up experience of our wonderful sport with Baseball5 on location as a demonstration sport.
Baseball5 is one of our key vehicles that can potentially help us grow our sport and reach new participants, particularly where our traditional game has faced challenges. Many countries are embracing this new discipline and I thought Cameron Vale, the CEO of Baseball Australia gave an excellent account of how Baseball5 can help a federation during the pre-Congress workshops.

That is also why the Development Commission has allocated a significant budget resource to Baseball5, to continue its exceptional growth. And as I said during the Congress, Continental Confederations are also key to growth and that is why they will be more closely involved, working hand in hand with the WBSC office to take advantage of development opportunities.
Further evidence of the development of our sport was the addition of seven new federations to the WBSC family:

  • Bermuda Baseball Federation
  • Laos Baseball Federation
  • Benin Baseball & Softball Federation
  • Bangladesh Baseball & Softball Federation
  • Palestine Baseball & Softball Federation
  • Egypt Baseball & Softball Federation
  • Kosovo Baseball & Softball Federation

It’s important that we continue to grow and welcome new members. We as a family can help these new members grow and they can also bring their own experiences to the table and help the WBSC family develop.

Also, we have to recognise our history and the very important people who have contributed to WBSC’s wonderful story, so it was my great pleasure present the Collar of Honour to Mr Ryozo Kato and Mr Katsuhiko Kumazaki, and, for the first time in WBSC history, the Golden Diamond to Mr Dale McMann.

It was also an honour to be able to welcome such a baseball legend as Sadaharu Oh as well as our guests from the Fukushima Prefecture, Yokohama City and Ehime Prefecture.

My thanks also go to the City of Sakai, the Baseball Federation of Japan and the Japan Softball Association for their great support of the WBSC and in particular this third edition of the WBSC Congress.

Already, I am looking forward to the next WBSC Congress in Taipei City in 2021 and with World Cups of various age groups and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games as major events on the horizon, we have definitely got plenty of opportunities to help with our mission to globalise our sport."

Key news articles from the WBSC Congress: