(LAUSANNE, Switzerland) – The International Baseball Federation (IBAF) today released a series of updates on the progress of baseball’s growth across Europe, and the efforts all partners are putting towards growing the game. All indicators, from professional players playing abroad to the increase in clinics and participation in Little League, show that the sport is growing at its fastest pace ever in Europe as the Baseball World Cup approaches in early September.
“The efforts that our federations are making to grow the sport at the grassroots level, as well as all the time our partners are putting in to help us tell our story, are being positively reflected in our growth globally,” said IBAF President Dr. Harvey Schiller. “We are especially pleased with the growth that we are seeing in Europe leading up to this September’s World Cup. It is a very exciting time to be involved in the sport.”
Some of the points that are reflective of the growth of baseball in Europe include:
• Over 40 players from no less than nine European countries (England, Portugal, Spain, the Czech Republic, Italy, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, and France) are currently playing in the North American major and minor leagues - the highest number ever.
• Initial reports from Little League baseball, working with the European Baseball Confederation (CEB), are showing an increase in enrollment of over 10% for boys and girls playing Little League baseball across the continent.
• Major League Baseball recently completed its European Academy tryouts in six countries, and will be working with the CEB and IBAF to conduct coaching and player clinics in ten countries (Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom) throughout the rest of the summer and early fall and into 2010.
• The not-for-profit group Pitch in for Baseball recently completed its first-ever equipment giveaway and clinic in Iraq, and plans extensive equipment programs throughout Europe into the fall.
• The IBAF unveiled the first two of a series of country-specific baseball websites, www.baseballgermany.com and www.baseball-france.com, geared to provide all information regarding baseball in the respective countries, with additional sites coming in the next few weeks.
With regard to the World Cup, tickets for the World Cup sites in the Czech Republic and Sweden will be on sale by May 20, with other sites to follow soon. Barcelona, the city where baseball debuted as an Olympic medal sport in 1992, will play host to games between Spain, South Africa, Puerto Rico, and Cuba during the first round from 10-12 September. Other first round games will be held in Regensberg, Germany; Moscow; Prague; and Sundyberg (Stockholm), Sweden from 9-12 September. The second round will be split between Italy and the Netherlands, while the final round will be in Italy on 27 September. In total, 22 nations will compete for the coveted world championship.
From the Bring Back Baseball in 2016 group.