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'World' Baseball Classic loses reigning champions Japan over money wrangle

We’ll be rooting for Cuba in 2013.

Texas Rangers' Koji Uehara of Japan and Scott Feldman celebrate in 2011.
Texas Rangers' Koji Uehara of Japan and Scott Feldman celebrate in 2011.
Image: AP Photo/Paul Sancya

DEFENDING CHAMPIONS JAPAN have pulled out of the 2013 World Baseball Classic over a revenue-sharing row, the country’s Professional Baseball Players Association.

Japan won the inaugural 2006 edition of the international tournament created by Major League Baseball to emulate the success of football’s World Cup and won the last championship in 2009.

But national players from Japan’s professional teams had warned they would not take part in the next tournament unless the two-time champions were guaranteed a bigger slice of revenue from the event.

On Friday, the players association union said it was unable to reach a revenue-sharing agreement with MLB.

Each tournament rakes in a profit of about $18 million, with about 13% of that figure going to Japanese players, far less than the share given to MLB players of United States nationality, according to the union.

“We’ve tried to negotiate with the organisers. We threw the ball, but the ball didn’t return. It was a heartbreaking decision,” union chief Takahiro Arai told a news briefing in the western city of Osaka.

The union said over half of the tournament’s sponsorship revenue comes from Japanese corporations, on top of money generated from ticket sales and broadcasting rights. Arai added:

I’m sure that our fans and the World Baseball Classic want us to take part, but the organisers didn’t give us any reply to our request.

Japan defeated South Korea in the 2009 Classic, with Venezuela third and the United States, featuring MLB stars Ryan Braun and Chipper Jones, finished in fourth place.

- © AFP, 2012

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