New FIFA President Visits Newest FA -- Federations Focus

(ATR) Also; WBSC creates first softball world rankings; FISA scores record viewership year; ITU confirms dates for 2017 multisport champs.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino (C) cuts a ribbon during the inauguration of the office of the South Sudanese Football Association in Juba on March 23, 2016.
Infantino's visit to South Sudan, where he will attend an African Cup of Nations qualifier between South Sudan and Benin, is his first official international visit since being elected FIFA president about a month ago. / AFP / ALBERT GONZALEZ FARRAN        (Photo credit should read ALBERT GONZALEZ FARRAN/AFP/Getty Images)
FIFA President Gianni Infantino (C) cuts a ribbon during the inauguration of the office of the South Sudanese Football Association in Juba on March 23, 2016. Infantino's visit to South Sudan, where he will attend an African Cup of Nations qualifier between South Sudan and Benin, is his first official international visit since being elected FIFA president about a month ago. / AFP / ALBERT GONZALEZ FARRAN (Photo credit should read ALBERT GONZALEZ FARRAN/AFP/Getty Images)

(ATR) FIFA president Gianni Infantino celebrated his 46th birthday on Wednesday, March 23 by making his first official visit to a member association.

It seems fitting that his first destination as the head of world football would be South Sudan, the newest FIFA member.

Infantino met South Sudan’s president and then inaugurated the new South Sudan FA headquarters, which FIFA proudly says was constructed through funds from the FIFA Goal Programme.

South Sudan is the first stop on a three-day trip to Africa for Infantino, who will also visit Ethiopia, Djibouti and Gabon.

WBSC launches first-ever Softball World Rankings

The World Baseball Softball Confederation is out with their inaugural world rankings for both men’s and women’s softball.

The rankings reflect the performance of a country’s national team over a three-year period covering the Softball World Championships as well as junior and top-tier level tournaments.

The initial No. 1 ranked nation in the women’s game is Japan, a country that already boasts the top ranking in men’s baseball. Japan is keen to bring back both sports for the 2020 Summer Games to be held in Tokyo.

The United States ranks second behind Japan with Australia in third.

On the men’s side, New Zealand’s "Black Sox" are top of the rankings with Canada second and Australia third.

The top international softball competitions on the 2016 calendar are the Women's World Championship in Canada and the Junior Men's World Championship in the USA in July.

Rowing Records Large Increase in Viewership

The World Rowing Federation (FISA) aired more World Rowing events in 2015 than ever before, with a 170 percent increase in events aired since 2014.

In 2010, FISA developed a long-term strategy to create a professional resource to deliver consistent host television productions for its events. The resource is known as World Rowing Productions.

WRP develops a 30-minute highlight production that features the best races of the day during competition and is considered to be a major contributor to the increased viewership numbers.

The World Rowing Championships in 2015 also helped spur interest in the sport as the main qualifier for the Rio 2016 Olympic regatta. The 2015 championships received 43 percent more air time than the 2014 event and were shown across 181 television channels, up from 77 in 2014.

"We want to share these outstanding figures in order to provide an appreciation of how much television and video coverage our sport is now achieving," says FISA president Jean-Christophe Rolland. "We are especially proud of the increase in total television airings of World Rowing events."

FISA also broke the one million mark in total video streams from 2014 to 2015, showing live races and video on demand through its website worldrowing.com. The United States was pegged as the number one consumer of live streams with Great Britain, Germany and France not far behind.

The federation will seek to improve on these numbers by capitalizing on the Rio 2016 Olympics this August.

ITU Confirms 2017 Multisport Championship Dates

The International Triathlon Union will hold the first edition of the ITU Multisport World Championship Festival from Aug. 18-27, 2017 in Penticton, British Columbia.

The 10-day event will bring 5,000 athletes to compete in four disciplines: duathlon, aquathlon, cross triathlon and long distance triathlon.

"For the first time, athletes can compete in more than one Multisport World Championship race in one convenient location, which is an idea we’ve had a great response to both from cities and from age group athletes," said ITU president and IOC member Marisol Casado.

Triathlon Canada president Les Pereira says Penticton has a long rowing history and that the city is the perfect fit for the first edition of the multisport event.

"Penticton is special because of the long history of triathlon with the community," says Pereira. "We are very proud to be the first country to host this event. The sport of triathlon has its roots deeply entrenched in North America and much of it’s soul is in Canada."

Written by Gerard Farek and Kevin Nutley

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