WBSC Headquarters: After decades of relocations, Switzerland is now the permanent home of international baseball

WBSC Headquarters: After decades of relocations, Switzerland is now the permanent home of international baseball
16/07/2020
The International Baseball Federation (IBAF) moved to Lausanne in January, 1994 to have a day-to-day relationship with the International Olympic Committee.

The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) last week opened its new headquarters in Pully, Switzerland. This article gives a historic account of where international baseball has been based since the birth of its governing body.

The International Baseball Federation (IBAF) elected Lausanne as its home in January 1994. Then-president Aldo Notari of Italy, who succeeded USA's Robert Smith, wanted a day-to-day relationship with the International Olympic Committee and put his newly appointed Executive Director Miguel Ortin (Spain) in charge of moving the organization's headquarters from USA to Switzerland.

"My first visit to Lausanne was on 12 October 1993...we opened our office on 2 January 1994," recalled Miguel Ortin for the book The Game We Love.

For the record, the organization was not yet named IBAF but the International Baseball Association (IBA). It would eventually be renamed after Notari was re-elected as president in 2001.

The headquarters of the governing body of international baseball had been in the US since the early 1980s. Smith established the main office in Greenville, Illinois, where he lived and worked, in 1981. The organization was called then AINBA (Asociación Internacional Béisbol Amateur) and was the result of the merging (1976) between two conflicting governing bodies: FIBA (Federación International de Béisbol Amateur), the body founded in 1938 by Leslie Mann, and FEMBA (Federación Mundial de Béisbol Amateur), born through the initiative of 27 countries, representing Europe, North America and Asia and where opposing governance was mainly centred: the Central American and Caribbean countries.

Mann, the first-ever president of the governing body of international baseball, had been a Major League Baseball (MLB) player. The International Baseball Federation (IBF) he founded had 16 original members: the USA, England, France, Canada, Hawaii, Cuba, Mexico, Spain, Egypt, China, Japan, Peru, Philippines, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany.

Mann created, together with Cuban army Colonel Jaime Mariné, the Amateur World Series, the tournament that would evolve into the IBAF World Cup. He lost interest in the event and in the International Federation after the USA decided to pull out of the Amateur World Series.

In the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, Spanish speaking countries in Central America and in the Caribbean were the lifeblood of the international federation. Then-president Jorge Reyes (Mexico) changed the name of the organization into FIBA in 1944. During this period spanning 30 years, the federation mainly existed to organize the Amateur World Series and the headquarters were moved to the country of residence of the elected president.

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