Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Bologna, Italy to play in Asia Series

European Baseball Club to Make Historic Debut in Asia Series 'International Tournament of Champions' in November

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The 2013 Asia Series will expand to include the club champion from Europe and bring together champions from the Australia, Chinese Taipei, Korean and Japanese professional leagues.
TAIPEI CITY (TPE) - The Italian Baseball League's Fortitudo Bologna will be Europe's first-ever representative in the competitive Asia Series and will be pitted against other club champions from the professional leagues in Australia, Chinese Taipei, Korea and Japan.

The Asia Series Executive Committee approved expanding the competition to include the winner of the annual European Cup, which was won in August by Bologna in a field that included league champions from the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, San Marino, Spain and Switzerland.

With the new expanded format, winners of the Australian Baseball League, the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL), the European Cup, the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) and Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) will unite to determine the champion of champions at the 7th edition, which is being hosted by CPBL in Taichung, Chinese Taipei from 15-20 November 2013.

Asia Series executives cited the accelerating global growth of baseball and the increasing competitive levels in Europe in top-tier international competitions, from the youth to elite categories, over the last few years as being among the motives for the expansion.

WBSC Co-president Riccardo Fraccari hailed the announcement of the Asia Series' expansion.

"Having a European team in the 2013 Asia Series is a historic landmark that further validates not only our sport's continued rise in Europe, but also the worldwide development and appeal of baseball as a whole. The inclusion of Europe will enrich the Asia Series and further its reach strategically," said Fraccari.

Fraccari also commended the Asia Series Executive Board for their historic decision.

"The WBSC fully shares this vision of a unifying 'Worldwide Series' and endorses this new pathway for European clubs to be included in an elite international competition like the Asia Series. This platform will provide ballplayers in Europe with an exciting new opportunity to showcase their talents, while further increasing interest in and exposure to European baseball in key regions and markets - and in Europe itself - which will ultimately add value across the board for European clubs, leagues and National Federations moving forward."

NPB teams have won the Asia Series five out of six times, with the Yomiuri Giants having last captured the title in 2012, which was hosted by KBO in South Korea. KBO's Samsung Lions earned the honour of being crowned Asia Series champion in 2011 to end NPB's streak of four consecutive titles.