The formation of a Baseball Champions League in Europe was announced on the final day of the 2023 European Baseball Championship. (Photo Courtesy WBSC)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
The World Baseball Softball Confederation announced on Sunday that the Baseball Champions League Europe event will take place in 2024.
The announcement was made at the final day of the European Championships in the Czech Republic.
The World Baseball Softball Confederation Europe sector, with members from the German Baseball and Softball Federation, the Czech Baseball Association, Federazione Italiana Baseball Softball, and the Koninklijke Nederlandse Baseball en Softball Bond, agreed to replace the existing Baseball European Champions Cup with a new club tournament.
The Baseball European Champions League will feature eight elite teams from Italy, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, and Germany.
All the top teams from those specific countries will have a series of home and away games in different European countries and alternating cities. The Baseball European Champions League will end their tournament in a final four semifinal format and a championship game.
“The Champions League in Europe will be the second step next year and will be around the top eight teams in Europe, the same model as football, and after, we have the champions,” WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari told World Baseball Network after the Baseball Champions League final in Merida, Mexico on Sunday. “And after this, we will work for the Champions League Asia, Asia/Oceania, and after, we will make a final four with all the winners.”
The European baseball club rankings have not been updated on eurotopteam.com since March 7, 2023. It has yet to be determined whether participation will be determined by a ranking system or by league championship
The ultimate goal of the Baseball Champions League is to expand to include 140 leagues worldwide in the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, and Asia to build more international club competition events, which could lead to possibly having national teams compete against club teams in the future.
Other international events where club teams and national teams are still competing against each other are the World Port Tournament and Honkbal Haarlem Week Tournament, which are each held in the Netherlands in alternating years.
“In football, when they go to watch the Champions League, they don’t go to watch Spain, they go to watch the single teams. And the same is to be done in Belgium. …We decided at the World Baseball Classic to globalize our sport through the Champions League,” Fraccari told World Baseball Network
The WBSC Europe sector has several similar events, such as the European Champions Cup, European Confederation Cup, the pool rounds of the Baseball Federation Cup Qualifier, and Baseball Federation Cup for European club teams.
Now the Baseball European Champions League can set the tone for a more high profile and shift the previous club tournaments in Europe to a different tournament landscape.
The WBSC Asia sector held the Asia Series, featuring top club teams, from 2005-08 and 2011-13 with the champions from Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan, the Korea Baseball Organization, the Chinese Professional Baseball League in Taiwan, the Australian Baseball League, the winner of the European Champions Cup, and an All-Star team from the China Baseball League before it discontinued after the 2013 tournament.
The Baseball European Champions League will provide a lot of scouting opportunities for professional leagues globally.
The Baseball European Champions League is part of the World Baseball Softball Confederation event portfolio, which includes the Premier 12, World Baseball Classic, and age-group World Cups.
The 2024 Baseball Champions League in the WBSC Americas sector was announced on Sunday and it will be held at Estadio de Béisbol Hermanos Serdán, home of the Pericos de Puebla in Liga Mexicana de Beisbol. The four teams that will be at next year’s event will be the 2023 American Association champions Kansas City Monarchs, 2022-23 Liga Profesional de Béisbol Colombia champions Vaqueros de Montería, 2023 Liga Mexicana de Beisbol Champions Pericos de Puebla, and 2023 Cuban Serie Nacional champions Leñadores de Las Tunas.