The WBSC Executive Board remarked on a breakthrough year for the world of international baseball and softball during its end of year meeting held at the WBSC headquarters in Pully, Switzerland on Saturday. Meeting for the first time in person since the WBSC Congress in 2022, the WBSC Executive Board reviewed an “extremely successful” year and emphasised the importance of the future ahead as the WBSC continues to provide opportunities for people to engage with the sport of baseball and softball in all its forms. “Today is a special day for me because it is the first meeting of our Executive Board here in our headquarters, finally in person, after the long period of the pandemic,” WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari told the members in his opening address. “We have had a very special last 12 months, which has heralded many new initiatives and exciting new projects. World Baseball Softball Confederation Day “In this precious moment, we have much to celebrate, but two important milestones come to my mind – 10 years of life of the WBSC and the return of baseball & softball in the Olympic Programme of LA 2028. “It was not easy to put together two “worlds” that for decades followed different and sometimes contrasting paths, but today we can say that all the perplexities and doubts that some had at the beginning of this journey have been overcome, and the results are evident. “We are one unified body, one unified federation, one solid International Federation. We can celebrate 10 May, the day the WBSC was born in 2014, as a united and strong organisation, including our eight Confederations and 191 National Federations. We will dedicate this day to our community to celebrate this day together. A day to commemorate the unification of baseball and softball.” The WBSC Executive Board approved the proposal to call 10 May – World Baseball Softball Confederation Day Return to the Olympic Games On the return to the Olympics sports programme at LA28, President Fraccari congratulated all the members for their support behind getting baseball and softball on the LA28 sports programme, especially USA Baseball and USA Softball. “It’s great that baseball and softball are in the LA28 Olympics,” WBSC Executive Vice President for Softball and USA Softball CEO Craig Cress said. “We have worked together very well with the different stakeholders, including the athletes and this is not only a reward for the work we have done but also the global baseball and softball community. “Having baseball and softball in the LA28 Olympic Games was a no brainer and we’re looking forward to it being a great success at LA28,” WBSC Member at Large for Baseball and USA Baseball CEO Paul Seiler said. “Now the exciting work starts for LA28 and beyond including Brisbane 2032.” Baseball5 The next Olympic Games for the WBSC is the Youth Olympic Games 2026 in Senegal where Baseball5 will feature. The Executive Board acknowledged the power of WBSC’s urban, mixed-gender sport to continue to engage new participants in baseball and softball and reach new communities with the power of sport. President Fraccari said the success of Baseball5 “continues to prove how we are changing and innovating, we are breaking some moulds and are really a global sport. “Last month’s Youth Baseball5 World Cup in Ankara, Türkiye was a great preview of what we can expect at the Youth Olympic Games, with dynamic action on the field as well as great camaraderie amongst the teams. Our mixed gender discipline is proving to be a great hit!” World Games Qualification Process The WBSC Executive Board approved the qualification process for the World Games Chengdu 2025, which will take place from 7-17 August 2025, for both men’s and women’s softball. The qualification process for the two eight-team tournaments will include: one spot for the hosts China, six spots for the top six teams in the WBSC Ranking as at 31 December, 2024 one Wild Card spot, to be awarded by WBSC no later than 31 January, 2025. Meanwhile, the Executive Board reviewed another busy events season which featured 100 teams in WBSC World Cups (not included the Baseball Champions League) which came from countries from all five Olympic continents – Africa (5), Americas (13), Asia (8), Europe (10) and Oceania (2). A total of 12 different countries won medals including from the Americas (9), Asia (7), Europe (1) and Oceania (1). Innovation and change The inaugural edition of the Baseball Champions League and the launch of the eBaseball Series as well as the success of the WBSC eBASEBALL™: PowerPros were heralded as landmark moments in 2023 for the international baseball and softball community. Following the successful first WBSC Baseball Champions League in Merida, Mexico, which generated impressive media coverage, plans are already underway for the next edition in 2024, which will be announced in the near future, while eBaseball, with much success at the Olympic eSport Series – where the WBSC was included as one of 10 participating International Federations – and the WBSC eBaseball Series, is seen as a major growth opportunity which the WBSC will further embrace in the future. The WBSC Legacy Club, which has been set up to give more people the opportunity to participate in sport, was also acknowledge as a key WBSC project of the future. Earlier this year, the WBSC opened a dedicated Baseball5 field in the Azraq Refugee Camp in Jordan, which now has two fields and almost 60 kids enjoying three training sessions per week while four other Baseball5 teams are growing in neighbouring villages including in another refugee camp (Souf), where Palestinians, who escaped from Gaza, are living. “I believe this will prove to be one of the most important and impactful initiatives we have ever launched,” President Fraccari said. To close the meeting, the Executive Board approved the Finance Report of 2022, as well as updates to the Disciplinary ByLaws and WBSC Safeguarding from Harassment and Abuse Rules. Two players transfers – Kaeber A. G. Rog from Koninklijke Nederlandse Baseball Softball Bond to Curaçao Baseball Federation and Ahir N. G. Meulens from Koninklijke Nederlandse Baseball Softball Bond to Curaçao Baseball Federation – were also approved.