Last week, following an extraordinary parliament session, the president of the Dutch Baseball and Softball Federation Ruud van Zetten and his fellow board members stepped down due to a conflict with the appeal board. Mr. van Zetten was so kind and agreed on a Q&A, trying to shed some light on this matter. He also talks a bit about the future of the IBAF one month before the congress in Lausanne.
Mister Baseball: Could you explain to our readers the reason for the resignation in a few sentences?
Ruud van Zetten: That is quite complicated, because it is really an internal matter. The KNBSB Appeal Committee has a right to speak in disputes between the clubs and the Federation Board. The Board noticed the past two years that decisions of this committee were inaccurate and false claims were made. In some cases even illegal statements. Apparently nobody wants to do something about it, except the Federation Board. The Board held a license case emphatically distanced himself from the decisions of the committee because they were illegal. And that was the start of the conflict between the Board and this committee.
MRBB: Since this situation apparently had been brewing since last year, were there any initiatives to mediate between the two parties?
RvZ: The Board has conscientiously made efforts to resolve the matter. Even a mediator tried to help, but the Committee refused to cooperate because they said “nothing would solve or contribute”. The mediator was receipted by both sides, but ultimately failed. The Board regretted that, because it was a great opportunity to find a common ground again.
MRBB: Was stepping down a spontaneous decision or did you talk with your board members about it before the meeting?
RvZ: There was a confidence gap. The committee does not believe that the Federation Board is doing a good job. The Board has no confidence in an objective and transparent treatment of disputes by the Commission. The Board has advised the members of the Federation to send home the members of the committee. Only in that way the Board could start on recovery. The members of the Federation have not done so. And suddenly, the Committee has a place for mediation. For the executives of the Board to late and unreliable. The Board did not throw the towel in advance, but tried on the basis of arguments to decide the issue by the members of the federation. Not happen, unfortunately.
MRBB: What are the next steps and possible consequences for the federation?
RvZ: There is now a temporary Board that will look for new executives and former executives and started discussions concerned the best way for new legislation. My feeling is that we lose again years in the construction of elite sports and developing new products for the future. Luckily there are guidelines in place until 2012. If that is thrown away the damage would be enormous. Furthermore, members of committees and executives of the Board must undersign activities of Good Governance.
MRBB: Are you satisfied with the development of Dutch Baseball and Softball during your time at the top of the federation?
RvZ: Very. We made perfect steps forward at the elite level. We are in fierce competition with the top international level. We have youth which are taught the game better than ever before. We have young players who stand out and get signed; we have a very strong network of academies. All is the result of the work of the last eight years. We have better facilities for the national teams, better coaching, better tournaments. The Result? In Europe we are at the top in all country competitions.
MRBB: Will you continue to help the sport in a different position? Are you possibly going to pursue a position with the CEB or the IBAF?
RvZ: Clear and true. In the past eighteen months I have done a lot of work in the preparation of the IBAF Baseball World Cup in seven European countries. I’ve seen where it goes wrong in the International Baseball Federation, where we are still work amateurish. I’ve seen where the IBAF must find its strength in the future. I call that: Change: We have to do.
It may sound strange, but in recent years Italy and the Netherlands have found each other more and more if it goes about the future of Baseball. Of course 16 sites in Italy weren’t the best way to organize the World Cup, but the Italians know very well that change and new forms of cooperation and new money is the basis for IBAF. This means that the old ideas must be reformed by the IBAF, while preserving the good things of course.
To support that the Netherlands and some other countries candidate me for Treasurer.
MRBB: Six of the top eight European federations in Baseball in Prague last week. You personally attended the gathering and came to an agreement with the FIBS to work better together in the future. Is this correct? We also only know about fragments from this meeting. Could you sum up the most important points?
RvZ: There is no agreement with the FIBS. There is the agreement to share things together and try to improve. We must get smart in the future in dealing with tournaments, establishing public interest in the media, More financial success. A joint collaboration with others to get more young players to learn the game. We need better regional solutions for all countries in Europe. More performance by baseball.
Furthermore, we examined how the six countries in Prague would like to see the IBAF in the future. That meeting also had unanimous support for the candidacy of Fraccari. It is clear that the Dutch association also choose to support his candidacy, like many other countries in the Far East, Europe, North, South and Central America.
Mister-Baseball thanks Mr. van Zetten for answering the questions.