NEW YORK -- World Baseball Classic, Inc. (WBCI) announced Wednesday, with the endorsement of the tournament Steering Committee, the introduction of a new World Baseball Classic Qualifying Round for the 2013 World Baseball Classic which will expand the competitive field from 16 to 28 countries. The new round will feature 16 teams divided into four pools of four teams each. The teams invited to participate will include the four World Baseball Classic teams from 2009 that did not win a game. The 16 countries receiving Qualifying Round invitations are:
*Participated in the 2009 World Baseball Classic
The Qualifying Round games will take place in fall 2012 and each of the four pools will feature a six-game modified double-elimination format. The composition of the pools will be determined once the Qualifying Round venues are selected and will be based on geographical location, competitive balance and regional rivalries.
The winners from each qualifying pool will advance into the World Baseball Classic tournament, scheduled for March 2013. Those four teams will join the 12 countries -- Australia, China, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela -- that receive automatic invitations based on their performance in the 2009 tournament.
"Growing the game of baseball around the globe is the primary objective of the World Baseball Classic. By expanding the competitive field of the 2013 tournament, we are demonstrating our commitment to this goal and reinforcing that the World Baseball Classic is the premier showcase of baseball around the globe," said Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. "The tournament is a unique experience for fans to witness the excitement of this great game and I encourage organizations around the world to bid for the chance to host this wonderful baseball event."
"The expansion of the World Baseball Classic from 16 to 28 teams is a testament to the sport's continuing growth in participation and popularity around the world," said Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Michael Weiner. "The overwhelming fan, player and media support bestowed upon the first two World Baseball Classics is at the root of this decision, which makes the World Baseball Classic a truly global competition."
WBCI determined the 12 new teams for the Qualifying Round based on criteria established to create the most competitive international baseball event in the world. Some of the key factors involved in team evaluation and selection included: strength of native player base, number of professional players, IBAF international rankings, viability of domestic baseball programs, participant's impact on baseball development in country/territory and diverse global representation.
World Baseball Classic Inc. also announced the commencement of the venue selection process for hosts of the four Qualifying Round pools, as well as the 2013 World Baseball Classic games. Parties including MLB clubs, governments, international federations, promotional and event companies are invited to formally express interest in hosting a pool, or pools, of the tournament. Interested parties will be provided a formal bid document including detailed requirements and bid submission guidance. WBCI welcomes bids from bidding groups who can deliver a strong and compelling bid that effectively combines both public and private support for promoting and hosting part of the World Baseball Classic. The bidding process for the Qualifying Round venues is expected to conclude by September 2011 with the venues for the World Baseball Classic tournament to be finalized by December 2011.
Added Riccardo Fraccari, president of the IBAF, baseball's world governing body: "On behalf of the IBAF and its 119 national federations, it is wonderful that the quality of baseball internationally has warranted the expansion of the World Baseball Classic. The expansion to 28 teams will be beneficial not only for the worldwide development of baseball, but also to raise the technical level of play in many countries that were previously unable to compete at such levels. The tremendous passion and interest from players, fans and the international community makes the World Baseball Classic a special celebration of the game of baseball."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.