UNITED ARAB EMIATES – Rebranding the game of baseball as a global sport – not just an American sport – will be the new strategy of the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) as the governing body of the sport worldwide strives to get baseball back on the Olympic program.
“The message you have to give to people is that baseball is a global sport, not American,” IBAF president Riccardo Fraccari told The Associated Press on the sidelines of the SportAccord International Convention in Dubai. “This was the mistake made in the past.”
An Italian who succeeded American Harvey Schiller late last year as the International Baseball Federation president, Fraccari (pictured, left) has made returning baseball to the Olympics his top priority.
Baseball and softball became the first sports in nearly seven decades to be voted out of the Olympics in 2005, and both sports lost appeals for reinstatement the following year.
The two sports attempted to get back into the Olympics for the 2016 Games, but the International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted to add the elitist sports of golf and rugby instead.
Unlike his predecessor, who failed to lure the leaders of the International Softball Federation (ISF) into a joint bid, Fraccari is expected to pitch the benefits of a partnership with ISF president Don Porter when officials from the two federations meet this week at the SportAccord.
Besides getting baseball back into the Olympics, Fraccari also wants to see the game enjoy growth in Europe as well as the Middle East. The 2009 IBAF Baseball World Cup was held in several European cities to help promote the game on the old continent.
“If you look at Europe, it is a big potential market,” he said. “There is money. There are good organizations and a strong mentality of sport.”
Iran, Iraq and several other Middle Eastern countries have expressed interest in starting baseball programs, and Fraccari believe these nations have good potential since all possess good weather, American influence and available land.
Photo courtesy of FIBS