The world head of baseball and softball spoke on global issues concerning baseball and softball in a video conference organised earlier this week by the Colombian Softball Federation and the University of Antioquia, with more than 200 people participating.
MEDELLÍN, Colombia --World Baseball Softball Confederation President Riccardo Fraccari says the combined global governing body for baseball and softball, the WBSC, has strengthened the bat-and-ball sports and their Olympic status.
"We have over 65 million athletes and approximately 150 million fans in stadiums around the world," Fraccari said. "These numbers indicate the value of the baseball-softball merger in 2013. I believe that no other federation, no other sport, has been able to obtain such a success in such a short time.
"Before the merger, I started asking ‘why there were two worlds, with different objectives, competing against each other?’" Fraccari, then International Baseball Federation president, said of the situation of baseball and softball having different governing bodies. "I started talking to softball people, explaining that, in my opinion, dividing the great world of ball would make us weaker. The International Olympic Committee itself was pushing for a merger. A unique sport can be presented with different modalities, so baseball and softball could return to the Olympic Games."
Fraccari made the comments speaking with Colombian Sports Minister Ernesto Lucena, Colombian National Olympic Committee President Baltasar Medina and WBSC Softball Division Chairman Tommy Velazquez in a public video conference on Wednesday that lasted almost two hours. The main topic of the forum was the successful merger of the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) and International Softball Federation (ISF) into WBSC in 2013, strengthening both discipline’s position as global sports across all levels, from development through to the international stage.
"After six years of unification, we have had great results. Baseball and softball are back in the Olympics. Today WBSC has 198 National Federations and 13 associate members, many professional leagues from around the world want to participate in this global baseball softball family.
"Today, the differences have been solved, and the WBSC, by uniting the two disciplines, grew up so strong and with such enthusiasm that we have developed baseball and softball competitions like no other sport, from U-12 to professional tournaments."
Minister Lucena immediately agreed with Fraccari. "I want to start by greeting all softball lovers, not only in our region but in the world," Colombian Sports Minister Lucena said. "It is very gratifying in the midst of this global crisis to be here with you, with a sport that has carved out a very important path. I want to congratulate you on the union of baseball and softball to make you stronger, I think many sports could come together to be stronger, especially in times of crisis like this."
Colombian Olympic Committee President Medina said: "The Minister's message has been very clear about the strategic decision of strengthening softball and baseball to seek the spaces they deserve in all the events of the Olympic cycle, due to their development and the popularity of their practice."
At the conclusion of the video conference, the WBSC President Fraccari gave a union message to baseball and softball’s continental and national federations around the world:
"After the world governing body merger, the IOC understands that the union of our sports must also be at all institutional levels. The next step is to unite our sports at the continental level. Europe has already done it with WBSC Europe; Africa and Oceania have also done it. America must understand that this is the way. I know it will take much more time in countries with two different associations (baseball and softball), I am very careful with this topic because it takes time to change the mindset. But we must understand that we have embarked on this process."
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