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Jan '09 28

Italian Concerns about 2009 Baseball World Cup Organization

by Pim van Nes

On Tuesday, the independent website Baseball.it in Italy published an article written by the Italian journalist Marco Micheli. The author aims to the delay in information about possible progress in the Italian part of the organization of the 2009 World Cup tournament, accounting for 48 international games in Italy. Micheli is not the only person in Italy, showing his concern about possible disappointments, for also club president Claudio Banchi of Grosseto recently complained to the Italian press about the fact, that he had not heard about any step forward, if at all made by the national federation FIBS or by the organizing committee since the end of the 2008 season.

Five months ago T&A San Marino, for the first time ever, conquered the national championship of Italy, by beating in the playoffs first Montepaschi Grosseto and second Danesi Nettuno. By doing so, the club from the mini-republic San Marino left the main country of Italy without a national club champion for the first time ever since 1948, when the first Italian championship in history was organized by FIBS. Last year San Marino, number four of the regular season, defeated and frustrated Grosseto and Nettuno resulting in the sacking of the two managers Mauro Mazzotti and Ruggero Bagialemani.

Now, these two clubs happen to be the best candidates for hosting World Cup games in September. Their stadiums Roberto Janella and Steno Borghese were the only two facilities close to approval according to MLB inspector Murray Cooke. All the other 21 Italian municipalities, listed by the Italian federation to participate in the 48 World Cup games in Italy, need improvements of their baseball facilities varying from some hundreds of thousands to over a million Euros to meet the requirements of Major League Baseball. These municipalities differ from central Rome and northern Milan with millions of inhabitants to the far southern village of Matino with only 12.000 people and closer to Africa than to any major baseball city in Italy.

Despite of the high importance of reputed baseball cities Grosseto and Nettuno, two sea side places at two, resp. one hour driving from capital Rome, the local clubs have been kept unaware of any progress made in World Cup preparations. The nationwide organizing committee has been presented in November last year to three Italian ministers, Olympic authorities and foreign ambassadors, but the essential local organizations in Grosseto and Nettuno still depend on the first information to be delivered by their national federation or its working group. Claudio Banchi, president of Grosseto Orioles, declared in an early January interview that no further World Cup news has reached him since the end of last season and also that the present financial crises will harm his own club, Nettuno and most of the other Serie A1 clubs in 2009.

Below the new article by Marco Micheli issued yesterday by Baseball.it, with editor in chief Filippo Fantasia in Milano and webmaster Alessandro Labanti in Bologna. The English translation came today from Rome, where Hall of Famer Giulio Glorioso (78 since January 4) used his morning hours for an easy reading version for foreigners outside Italy:

IBAF World Cup and communication dilemmas
by Marco Micheli – Baseball.it 27/01/2009 (12:41)
(translated by Giulio Glorioso)

Less than nine months from here to the 2009 World Cup. And yet, several pieces are missing to complete the puzzle – to begin from the absence of an official site to the list of the Italian venues chosen to host the event.
We were wrong. Yes, we were wrong. We made a blunder.  Even after checking and double-checking, sometimes it occurs to be deceived. This is the case. But let us start from the beginning, from a certainty due to our own error. We took as official a World Cup site showing only general information accompanied by a prominent countdown.
In essence, while the opening games of the Cup presented as an event of global range and of vital importance for baseball and its future in the Olympic Games, are just nine months away, IBAF has failed to activate a dedicated Internet site. The sole Internet site containing official information is the IBAF portal. Local sites are being activated by the national host federations of the World Cup. An excellent site was opened by the German federation. Although fully accessible for browsers typical of the Mac system, the portal is graphically remarkable. More important, it offers the possibility to buy on-line the tickets for the games scheduled to be played in Regensburg in the summer.
Also worth mentioning is the effort in communication certain to reward the local Organizing Committee that in November 2008, after the constitution of an Operating Company, succeeded in securing from IBAF a contribution of 50.000 Euros to cover hospitality cost for the four national teams due to take the field at Regensburg, as well as the concession of full operational autonomy in the search for corporate sponsors. The communication provided by the Regensburg Legionaere Club that is vested with the responsibility of the local World Cup Organizing Committee is up to the standards of major entities equipped with higher investment funds. A visit to their site tells the story: frequent updates of the work in progress to expand the capacity of the Armin-Wolf Arena to over 11.000 seats, a link to a mini-site concerning the World Cup, etc.
The gap vis–à-vis the situation in Germany difficult to overcome here in a short time, as Italians do not know as yet where they will be able to attend the games played by their players. With the World Cup nine months away, and the national championships due to start in less than three months, the list of the host cities of the world event has not been released as yet. Which means that despite all their efforts the local organizing committees will hardly be able to complete the restoration and renovation works required to improve our baseball facilities and have them meet IBAF standards. In fact, it is difficult to conceal the complex administrative procedures concerning the allocation of public funds with the urgent operational requirements on the field.
Accordingly, it is difficult to deny that the new baseball stadium in Rome designated to host the World Cup finals cannot be completed in time for the event, despite its official presentation in a high-profile press conference attended by government and Parliament members. In which performances we are masters…
The IBAF cooperation with the Swedish federation must also be mentioned in the construction of a new baseball field especially planned to host the coming World Cup games.
Hours, days and weeks go by. February is just around the corner. But official communication from FIBS either via web or other traditional channels is conspicuous for its absence. Perhaps the Italian federation hopes that a last-minute dash and the typical Italian “smiling approach” will be good enough to replace the lack of communication. Let us hope so.

Pim van Nes
Baseball writer for

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