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World Baseball Classic to expand to 20 teams for 2021 edition

Emilio Pagan of Puerto Rico during the 2017 World Baseball Classic (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) has announced that World Baseball Classic – the international world championship for the sport which is sanctioned by the WBSC and is organised in partnership with Major League Baseball – will expand from 16 teams to 20 for the 2021 edition. 

Four new teams will be selected from 12 countries via a series of qualifiers set to be held in Tuscon, Arizona, between 12 and 25 March. 

Brazil, France, Germany, Nicaragua, Pakistan and South Africa make up Pool 1, with Pool 2 comprising Czech Republic, Great Britain, New Zealand, Panama, Philippines and Spain. The countries will face off against one another with the top two in each group winning the right to compete in the next World Baseball Classic, scheduled for March 2021. 

The four new teams will join all 16 countries that competed in the 2017 tournament, which saw the US beating Puerto Rico 8-0 in the final to claim the title of world champion.

Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Mexico, Taiwan, and Venezuela also took part in 2017 and will return for 2021.

“WBSC is excited to further strengthen ties with Major League Baseball and the MLBPA [Major League Baseball Players Association] through the expansion of the World Baseball Classic, which will see an increase from 16 to 20 teams and include more of our National Federations,” WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari said. “WBSC applauds MLB’s continued efforts and shared vision of globalising our great game.”