BREAKING: A new event has been added to the international calendar this autumn, but not without some controversy. The Professional Dream Baseball Cup, also known as the European Baseball Cup, is set to take place in Andalusía from Oct. 30-Nov. 17 and feature a variety of national teams, some of whom would be make historic appearances if they are, in fact, representatives squads.
Controversies and Issues
The website [link] was first circulated in August, while the Twitter account was formed in February (@EBCupOficial). Many of the links of the main website do not work, though there are several press releases available. The Cup has an active social media presenceand has opened accreditation to the press.
Two football stadia are listed as host sites, the Stadium Iberoamericano, and eight-thousand seater near Cádiz, and the Stadio Chapín in Jerez, which can seat more than 20 thousand. An early draft of the logo from Feb. 20 [link] indicates the event was meant to take place in Sevilla, with no word as to why it was changed. The link for tickets directs to a new website, https://bigticket.es, which does not list any other events and, therefore, may be part of the same company. Several attempts to view the ticket-buying process were unsuccessful.
Further adding to the intrigue of the event is that the tournament intends to field a team playing as “Spain”, but the Spanish federation (RFEBS) went as far as to write a letter [link] officially condemning the tournament and its claim of a Spanish team. The letter noted that RFEBS “reserves the right to take all legal and/or disciplinary actions it may deem appropriate.” There seems to be some question of the legality of hosting a baseball tournament in Spain without the federation or WBSC’s consent. Previous attempts to contact the WBSC for an explanation as to how an event becomes sanctioned have been unanswered.
The retort to RFEBS’ letter by the organisation hosting, International 4Big Sports, expressed “surprise” at their response, noting, “We will carry [the event] out, whatever the cost” [link]. It also suggests that it had contacted RFEBS in advance. One might assume, however, that “Spain” will not be comprised of the official Spanish national team.
Adding a further twist to the ongoing saga of the cup is that Spain’s manager, Luis Sojo, indicates “we will go there” in an Instagram post [link] (Hat tip to @ikerbilbao on Reddit). Interestingly, he mentioned this tournament before even the European Championship or the Europe-Africa Olympic Qualifier.
WBSC Sanctions [This section not in the original article.]
After an interesting point from the European Softball Federation’s Kristian Pälviä, who observed that the WBSC’s rules may prohibit events like this from happening, we investigated the WBSC’ statutes further. Several sections of the “Sanction Procedure and International Game Rules” [link], in particular, are noteworthy.
Any International Baseball…Game or International Baseball…Tournament between teams and/or clubs that come under the jurisdiction and/or auspices of one or more Member Federations and/or comprising of one or more players that come under the jurisdiction and/or auspices of one or more Member Federations, shall come under the jurisdiction of the WBSC.
According to the above statement, either this tournament is NOT under WBSC jurisdiction because no nations or players from those nations are playing, or it falls under its jurisdiction. The problem of listing national teams, however, becomes even more difficult in Chapter 1.2: “WBSC Full Members are the only authorities in each country to select their National Team and have the exclusive right to represent the Country Name, Flag and Colours.”
This more-or-less precludes any unsanctioned tournament from advertising that it represents national teams. Chapter 1, Article 5 goes into further detail:
Where a team is not the National Team acting under the authority of the National Federation and/or respective National Olympic Committee – and/or where a competition has not been duly sanctioned by the WBSC – the uniform colours and style of such team competing in an international tournament must not be the same as or similar to any National Team uniforms of the WBSC Member. The National Flag of the country of that National Federation must not appear on the uniform and such team should not be promoted/positioned as a team representing a country or nation on any media outlets (broadcasting, website, social media, print publications, etc.).
Any tournament or club in breach of the above articles would then fall under Chapter 1.4: “Failure to obtain this sanction would constitute a breach of the present Statutes and would be sanctionable in accordance with the By-Laws”.
Those articles appear to prevent tournaments such as these or, indeed, any tournaments featuring countries beyond pickup games, from proceeding legally.
National Federations Listed as Participants
The list of nations and regions represented is impressive and at least two appear to be legitimate: Andalusia (a regional subsidiary of RFEBS), Argentina, Dominican Republic, “Euroamerica”, India, Japan’s Baseball Challenge League, Pakistan, Panama, the Philippines, Portugal, Spain, “USA All-Stars”, and Venezuela. It is unclear whether most are representative sides or ex-pat teams.
Pakistan Federation Baseball appears, in fact, to be sending its national team, with Syed Fakhar quoted in an article on the website [link]. The same goes for India, with President Harish Kumar offering his thoughts [link]. It is seems unexpected that two teams would travel so far to an event that seems at least somewhat likely to be cancelled, given the complicated nature of tournament hosting even without additional difficulties.
Queries to both have gone unreturned, while a source tells us that the team listed as Portugal is a selection from its national league, which includes players that are not Portuguese citizens.
Preparations for the Tournament
International 4Big Sports CEO Jorge Sánchez Diaz seems quote confident in the event’s success. In a reply to a comment about the overlap with the Premier 12, Diaz said, “We have not made an event in the same time, it has been the other way around” [link]. Worth noting as well is that 4BigSports is headquartered in Barquisimeto, Venezuela [link].
The European Baseball Cup has, noteworthily, attracted two huge names to attend the tournament, with the first being long-time big league star Miguel Tejada, who shot a video in support.
The other big name attached to the event is Orlando Hernández (who looks to still be in playing shape!).
Potential Historic Moments
Should this tournament indeed happen, it would mark multiple historic firsts:
1) First appearance by a full India national team outside of Asia (with a few players at the World Comes to Palm Beaches 2018).
2) First appearance in Europe for Pakistan, Panamá, and the Philippines.
3) The first tournament for Portugal since 2008 (1998 and 2008 Euros B-Pool only event ever).
4) First appearance for Argentina outside of South America (though they are not listed in a pool and seem likely to no longer be involved).
Although RFEBS has condemned the event, any opportunity to see international baseball in Europe is an intriguing one and we hope that the two organisations will come to an accord that allows the tournament to flourish. Stay tuned for more on the European Baseball Cup as reports continue to come in.