In non-WBC Qualifier news out of the Czech Republic, it appears that the Confederation ofis considering expanding the European Championship. At the latest congress last weekend, CEB issued a number of awards, including Federation of the Year to the Czech Republic, but a variety of notes are of potentially greater long-term significance.
The first is that CEB is considering changes the regulations for dual citizens, though it is unclear whether this will be a tightening or loosening. Complaints were filed against multiple federations in 2019 over the timing of citizenship for new players, though it appears that Baseball Europe cleared all charges. Changes in the requirements would affect Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, and Spain in particular.
It was announced, though, that there is discussion to enlarge the European Championship to 16 teams, which would be the most ever. Thehave had 12 teams since 1997, when it expanded from 10 nations.
Nations likely to benefit from the expansion are Greece (six times, most recently 2016), Ireland (never, but a strong performance in the last two B-Pools, the European Championship Qualifier), Lithuania (never, but runner up in 2016 and 2019), Russia (12 times 2016), Slovakia (never), Slovenia (three times, 2001), Switzerland (never), and the Ukraine (six times, 2010).
It would also make it easier for countries like Austria, Croatia, Great Britain, and Sweden to focus on the A-Pool. All but Great Britain have been relegated in the last tournament, while GB has been in the relegation pool in four-straight tournaments.
CEB is in the process of working out the existence of WBSC Europe and, therefore, the relationship between Baseball Europe and the WBSC. With the WBC Qualifiers and Olympics this year, we may not see a resolution in the immediate future. The next European Championship is in 2021.
This article is based, in part, on a press release by the Czech Baseball Association [link].