The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) has announced their intent to re-brand all their softball events beginning in 2021. Building on the success of the World Cup name, they will now use this title in place of the Softball World Championships, for softball competitions as well as baseball.
The tournaments have been restructured as well. Cups will be played every two years and feature a 16-team format. The tournament participants will be limited by continent with Europe’s representation maxing out at three teams.
The final version of the previous tournament structure will occur this year at the Women’s Softball World Championship taking place in Chiba, Japan. The first Women’s Softball World Cup will then take place in 2021, following the 2020 Games, and will continue to take place in odd numbered years thereafter.
The next two Men’s Softball World Championships take place in 2019 and 2021 before they switch their schedule to even-numbered years for their competitions in 2022. The first Men’s Softball World Cup will take place in 2022. This will complete the flip of the Men’s and Women’s Championship events, from odd to even numbered years, to align with the Olympic goals for the sport. As the Summer Games take place in even numbered years and, currently, only Women’s Softball is eligible to be an Olympic sport, this frees up the women for the Games while allows the Cup events to serve as qualifiers for those Games.
Continental qualifiers for the World Cup events will utilize the branding to spread the exposure of the game and showcase the Olympic potential. The WBSC expects to maximize the broadcast and commercial rights using this new identity all while growing the softball community to over 1 billion in the next decade.
The WBSC World Cup will not be the only such event for softball. There is currently a World Cup of Softball held by the Amateur Softball Association, which is governed by USA Softball. That event has been held annually since 2005. The Netherlands took 4th place in the 2012 event. The USA, Japan and Australia have combined for the most medals in the history of the event which has seen as many as 14 nations participate in a single Cup.