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   Q and A with Riccardo Fraccari
   Published on: January 4, 2010
On Sunday in Lausanne Switzerland, Riccardo Fraccari, President of the Italian Baseball Federation was elected the 16th president of the International Baseball Federation, the global governing body for the sport of baseball. President Fraccari is the second Italian to assume the IBAF Presidency, following the late Aldo Notari, who was IBAF President from 1993-2007. He will begin his four year term today.

President Fraccari is one of the key people responsible for baseball’s growth in Europe. His initial work in baseball came as an umpire, learning the game and organizing local, regional and national events for over 30 years. He was eventually voted Italy’s top professional umpire and the top amateur umpire in the world and was inducted into the ABUA Hall of Fame in 2002. As a baseball officer President Fraccari served as vice president of FIBS under late President Notari from 1985 to 2000 and as an umpire commissioner in Italy for over 20 years.

The Pisa, Italy native was also president of the European Confederation Technical Commission and a member of the International Federation Technical Commission.

Italian Baseball has seen its biggest growth period internationally during Fraccari’s run as president, with a growing professional league and increased play for both able bodied and disabled children. He was also a key organizer of the recently completed World Cup, which was played across Europe in September and ended with the United States defeating Cuba for the second consecutive time, this time before a sellout crowd in Nettuno, Italy.

We took a few minutes to conduct a brief q and a with the new president:

What are the first things you would like to accomplish in office?

 We need to reinvent the structure of our Lausanne office, be more transparent and involve our member federations more on a day-to-day basis. As an international federation we need to be more efficient and professional. I will first learn what the current situation of the office is and will make necessary changes from there.

What are your feelings on the Olympics?

 We need to deeply analyze where we are on the Olympic landscape. We cannot afford to invest money on a campaign to return to the Olympic Programme at this point. What we need to do is to continue to strengthen our sport and federation, which will help prove to the IOC that it needs baseball back.

There has been a lot of talk with regard to funding. Without government support, where do you think the best possible IBAF revenue streams will come from?

 It is critical that we quickly develop new streams of income for the federation. We need the help of professional leagues and in general we need to make our product more attractive and valuable to investors, donors and sponsors. We may need to transform our tournaments, for example, as well as introduce new events, like a World Championship featuring club teams from around the world..

What do you think the relationship will be with the professional leagues?

 This is easy to answer – it is extremely important for us to strengthen our relationship with the world’s professional leagues. To this point, I am planning on offering representatives from some of the top professional leagues a position on our newly-formed Executive Committee. They need us to help continue to develop players worldwide, and we certainly need their support both on and off the field.

There has been a good deal of talk with regard to developing women's baseball. Will you continue that growth and will you try and re-open talks with softball about working together?

 We will definitely continue to support women’s baseball, from the grassroots level to the Women’s Baseball World Cup. We will also try to convince softball that our only chance to the return to the Olympic Programme is through a combined bid. We need to illustrate to softball’s leaders that it was a mistake for them to call for their member federations to split with baseball.

Where do you think the biggest growth areas for baseball are?

 As evidenced by our bringing the 2009 Baseball World Cup to Europe we believe that the continent is certainly an area with room for significant growth. Looking at Europe ’s market, economy and number of interested players, we believe that the opportunity is there.. Africa is another area where we think baseball has a bright future, and we look forward to exploring that and assisting with its efforts.

What do you think the biggest challenges are?

The biggest challenge, again, is changing the identity of the federation. We need to restructure, cut expenses and grow our income through a strengthened relationship with the world’s professional leagues. We also look forward to continuing the ongoing challenge of growing the game of baseball around the world and helping educate players on our sport at a young age and on a grassroots level.

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