by IBAF, www.ibaf.org
Great Britain and five Americas qualifiers round out 22-team tournament
(LAUSANNE, Switzerland) The International Baseball Federation (IBAF) finalized the make-up of the five preliminary round groups for the 2009 Baseball World Cup on Friday.
All teams that competed in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games automatically qualified for the 2009 Baseball World Cup. All that remained after last month’s initial group announcement were the final five teams from the Americas and confirmation of participation from Great Britain. Following last week’s Baseball Cup of the Americas in Venezuela – the World Cup qualifier for the remaining teams from the Americas – and Great Britain’s confirmation, the field has been set.
The confirmation of Great Britain comes as London readies for the 2012 Olympic Games. Although baseball is not currently on the Olympic Program in 2012, support in Great Britain and throughout Europe both for the 2009 Baseball World Cup and the IBAF heading into the 2016 vote in October of 2009 remains strong.
The groups contain four teams each, for a total of 20 teams, and the remaining two teams – second round hosts, Italy and Netherlands – will receive byes to the next round. The groups are as follows:
Group A (Prague): Czech Republic (host), Australia, Chinese Taipei, Mexico
Group B (Barcelona): Spain (host), Cuba, South Africa, Puerto Rico
Group C (Stockholm): Sweden (host), Korea, Canada, Netherlands Antilles
Group D (Moscow): Russia (host), Japan, Great Britain, Nicaragua
Group E (Regensburg): Germany (host), USA, China, Venezuela