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World Baseball Classic, Inc. approves final eight invitations for March 2009 tournament02/19/2008 12:13 PM ET
World Baseball Classic, Inc. (WBCI) today announced the final eight teams that will be invited to participate in the 2009 World Baseball Classic next March, as endorsed by the tournament's Steering Committee.
These eight teams -- Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Italy, Netherlands, Panama, and South Africa -- round out the field of 16 invited to compete in the second tournament. In April of 2007, the teams that advanced to the second round in the 2006 World Baseball Classic - Cuba, Dominican Republic, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela - received initial tournament invitations from WBCI.
Similar to the 2006 selection process, the Steering Committee determined the 16 teams for the 2009 World Baseball Classic based on criteria established to create the most highly-competitive international baseball event in the world. Some of the key factors involved in team evaluation and selection included: strength of native player base, number of professional players, international rankings, viability of domestic baseball programs, participant's impact on baseball development in country/territory and diverse global representation.
"There has been significant improvement in the level of play internationally and indeed Major League ranks include even more players from across the world," said Eugene Orza, Chief Operating Officer of the Major League Baseball Players Association. "The 16 teams selected best represent the breadth of quality play around the globe, which meets a key tournament objective, showing the world how far baseball has come internationally. If you liked the tournament last time around, wait 'til you see her this time." WBCI also announced its intention to expand the number of teams participating in the 2013 event through a series of qualifying rounds. The format of World Baseball Classic qualifiers will be determined at future Steering Committee meetings.
"As the level of baseball continues to rise worldwide, it is essential that the World Baseball Classic expand its field to give the growing number of formidable teams the opportunity to participate," said Paul Archey, Senior Vice President, International Business Operations, Major League Baseball. "In accordance with the tournament's goal of growing and enhancing global interest in the game, the Steering Committee has strongly endorsed the expansion of the competition for the 2013 event."
More details regarding the 2009 World Baseball Classic, including host venues, pools and scheduling, are expected to be announced this coming spring.
About the World Baseball Classic Steering Committee
Steering Committee Members
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.