The World Baseball Softball Confederation held a press conference in Rome on Friday afternoon in regards to the prospective 2020 Olympic reinstatement in Tokyo, as well as to introduce the inaugural Premier 12, and the participation of an All Europe Team in the Asia Winter League. In attendance was the Taiwanese Ambassador to Rome, Stanley Kao, as well as the Deputy Mission Head of the Japanese Embassy, Hiroshi Yamauchi.
“The Tokyo 2020 announcement was huge for us” said President Riccardo Fraccari. “But there’s still work to do. The IOC will now assign observers to baseball and softball, we need to be at our best. Still, making the 2020 Games is a great accomplishment, but our final goal is to be on the program also for the future.” Furthermore, Fraccari added, “The Premier12 opens early November and that will showcase the best 12 national programs. Then we will have a European team participating in the Asia Winter League. If we can make baseball and softball global, then we will have a better chance to be an added value to the Olympic movement on a permanent basses.”
The Asia Winter League was launched in 2012 by the Chinese Professional Baseball League, and originally involved team’s top prospects from Taiwan, Korea, Japan and the Dominican Republic.
This year the league will get under way on the 23rd of November, and will feature the CPBL, CTBA (Chinese Taipei Baseball Association, KBO (Korea Baseball Organization, NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball and Team Europe.
“I am honored to be the first to welcome Team Europe,” Wu Chih Yang (video message), the CPBL Commissioner. “In March during the Global Baseball Matches in Tokyo Team Europe hung tight with the mighty Samurai Japan. I was deeply impressed and I am extremely grateful with the full support from WBSC President, Fraccari, in assembling a young Team Europe to participate in our Winter League. Our ultimate goal is to promote the globalization of baseball and support the game’s reinstatement to the Olympic Program.”
WBSC Executive Director Michael Schmidt explained that the team that will participate in the tournament is simply the second step of a very succesful project: “We were very statisfied with the way the coaching staff worked in March, so we discussed it with Steve Janssen and Marco Mazzieri, who were manager and bench coach in Tokyo and they selected the coaching staff”.
The manager of Team Europe will be Gilberto Gerali, who serves as bench coach for Mazzieri on Team Italy and is the manager of Parma in the Italian Baseball League. While Andrea D’Auria is the clubs General Manager, and is currently working on a the final 28 man roster that will be participating in the AWL, which will be publicized in the following weeks.