(ATR) The U-18 Baseball World Cup will return to the United States in 2021 for the first time in over 20 years, as the sport works to re-enter the Olympic program.
WBSC/USA Baseball press conference on Facebook Live
Sarasota and Bradenton, Florida will host the event, which organizers billed as a “scout’s dream,” gathering the world’s best youth baseball prospects. The U.S. last hosted the event in 1995.
Both facilities host Major League Baseball teams during their pre-season Spring Training, and minor league teams throughout the year.
Baseball/softball was recently left off the shortlist for additional sports for the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics. World Baseball Softball Confederation President Riccardo Fraccari then met with IOC President Thomas Bach
to discuss the future of the disciplines and the Olympics.
The 2028 Olympics will be held in Los Angeles, one of the largest baseball markets in the United States. The 2028 Games also represent the next chance after Tokyo 2020 for baseball/softball to return to the Olympics while lobbying for permanent inclusion. The U18 World Cup will be the first major event the U.S. hosts post-Tokyo 2020, a clear showcase of baseball to LA 2028 organizers.
Fraccari said at a press conference announcing the 2021 U18 host that baseball must continue to work to globalize its sport, so that it is not excluded from any future Olympics.
“I think this is a moment to show that we are not a local sport but a global sport,” Fraccari said. “We have to modernize our event to make it more appealing for young people, and for this reason the [WBSC] took some decision to organize the event [in Florida].
“We have to understand that society is changing and the youth need something more. With that I hand it over to you and we will see in 2021 the best event possible.”
The 2021 Baseball U18 World Cup will feature teams from the Americas, Africa, Europe, Asia, and Oceania according to Fraccari. He added that the WBSC “knows exactly [what] this federation would be able to do” with the tournament quality-wise, when it was awarded.
Mike Gaski, president of USA Baseball, said at the press conference that the WBSC was enthusiastic about the Sarasota/Bradenton bid because of the chance to “grow the game of baseball worldwide” while making use of the region’s extensive facilities.
“[President Fraccari] understands this is an opportunity to grow the game of baseball worldwide, the media attention at this event especially in this place one of the hotbeds of baseball,” Gaski said. “This event is a scouts dream, this is you can’t ask for much more than this the scouting community from baseball worldwide.”
Homepage photo: WBSC
Written by Aaron Bauer
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