(ATR) The International Baseball Federation World Cup begins in Taipei, with a simultaneous makeover of the federation website and more plans in the campaign to "make baseball a world game."
The new-look IBAF website
showcases baseball's eight year goals in a document called A Plan for the Future of Baseball for 2007 – 2015.
"This year marks a new direction for our sport," said IBAF president Harvey Schiller, at a press conference ahead of the 2007 World Cup in Taipei.
"We have new logos and new identifications but our goal is straightforward: to return our sport to the Olympic program following the Games in Beijing," he said.
Schiller is already upbeat about the campaign, which he took up when he was elected to head the IBAF in March 2007.
"We're stronger and we're a better organization," he says.
|The IBAF will administer twice as many drug tests at the 2007 World Cup as at the last edition in 2005. (Getty Images)
The first item is to increase public awareness of the game worldwide – with expanded TV coverage, continental and regional baseball academies and coaching programs in developing countries. The plan also calls for a worldwide program to draw women into playing, coaching, umpiring and administration in the predominately male sport.
Continental confederations and national federations from developing countries are up for more money, to be provided by a proposed fundraising campaign.
The federation must also "work with strategic stakeholders to achieve a 'real' world cup with the world's best players," according to the document.
A series of short videos to dispel the myth that baseball is just for Korea, the U.S., Japan and Cuba, will soon be posted as well.
|Defending champions Cuba have won the IBAF World Cup 25 times. (Getty Images)
The eight-year plan would also strengthen anti-doping measures – one of the issues that contributed to baseball's Olympic ouster in 2005.
IOC members struck baseball from the 2012 calendar by a margin of three votes. At issue were drug testing standards and the Olympic calendar's conflict with the end of the professional baseball season in the U.S. Players on U.S. teams typically come from a range of countries, but none can leave their jobs during the Games, and that deprives the Olympics of the sport's best.
Then-IBAF president Aldo Notari immediately began a campaign against the decision, but despite interest from several IOC members, he failed to have it reversed.
When Schiller became IBAF president, he said he would go through a "learning process" before making changes.
The 37th IBAF World Cup is the first under Schiller's tenure and the first to be streamed online for free.
Sixteen teams and almost two weeks of competition will be available on Stadeo.tv
But heavy rainfall means the Nov. 6 opening match between Chinese Taipei and Italy is postponed until a later date. Your best source of news about the Olympics is www.aroundtherings.com, for subscribers only.