IBAF Fraccari for Baseball in the Olympics
Havana, Jan 13 2012(Prensa Latina)

Baseball needs to be globalized to gain strength and influence worldwide, and achieve its reintegration into the Olympic Games program, said Riccardo Fraccari, president of the International Baseball Amateur Federation here Friday.

In a press conference at the Adolfo Luque Hall in Havana�s Latin American Stadium Friday, Fraccari criticized the steps taken by former IBAF administrations, saying that they maintained baseball as a sport without tradition, lacking unity and global vision.

He said baseball needs the active participation of all the national federations grouped by IBAF to intensify institutional pressure on professional teams.

Regarding Cuba, Fraccari said this Caribbean country should be a solid part of this new project pursuing the return of baseball to the Olympic Games, as a cardinal objective.

Fraccari, who took the IBAF presidency in 2009 and was reelected in December 2011, highlighted the support received by the leaders of all the professional leagues, including the Major League Baseball (US), to allow their players to take part in scheduled tournaments, which will surely have an impact on the Olympic Committee.

Up to now, one of the main excuses by the International Olympic Committee to take baseball out of the Olympic program is based on the brief participation of the worldí¢ï¿½í–s best players in the IBAF tournaments, with the exception of Cuban players.

With the implementation of the World Baseball Classic, IBAF gained strength and credibility. Now, it will focus on its own working agenda on the global development of baseball, trying to involve the biggest number of countries as possible.

The World Baseball Classic impressed the IOC officials so much that they were forced to place the sport in the selected group of sports for an analysis for their return to the Olympic Games program.

Antonio Castro, third vice-president of the IBAF Executive Committee, said the level of the least developed countries should be increased.

Castro also urged the national federations to play an active role in the steps to follow, proposed by IBAF, recognized Cuba as one of the nations with greatest strength and authority, and blamed the lack of unity and organization in baseball for its exclusion from the Olympics.

IBAF will have the 3rd World Baseball Classic in March 2013 and the 1st Premier 12 Tournament in 2015, an exclusive competition for the 12 top baseball teams in the 2013 World Classic.

There will be tournaments for the under-12, under-15, under-18 and under-21 (junior) categories.

This will establish a consistent development between the different categories, and a noticeable growth of quality baseball from early ages.