REGENSBURG, Germany The International Baseball Federation allocated the first round of next year's World Cup to five European countries on Friday in another effort to give the sport a wider international profile in its quest to return to the Olympics.
"Here in Europe, baseball is considered an American sport that is also played elsewhere," IBAF general secretary John Ostermeyer said. "With this effort we are trying to make it also here an international sport that is played in America."
The competition slated for September was originally scheduled to be played in Cuba, which agreed to the move the tournament to help grow the game. Baseball has been thrown out of the 2012 London Olympics.
The 20 teams were drawn into five groups, with second-round hosts Italy and the Netherlands receiving byes. The first round will be played in Prague, Czech Republic; Barcelona, Spain; Stockholm, Sweden; Regensburg, Germany, and Moscow.All teams that competed at the Beijing Olympics automatically qualified for the 2009 World Cup. The five remaining teams from the Americas will qualify in the Baseball Cup of the Americas tournament in Venezuela.
Group A, in Prague: Czech Republic (host), Australia, Chinese Taipei, Americas 3
Group B, in Barcelona: Spain (host), Cuba, South Africa, Americas 1
Group C, in Stockholm: Sweden (host), Korea, Canada, Americas 4
Group D, in Moscow: Russia (host), Japan, France/Britain, Americas 2
Group E, in Regensburg: Germany (host), United States, China, Americas 5