The WBSC Organizing Committee, a world championship with a ‘three-judge system’ and a last word on the sign…

“It’s a world competition, and I’m worse than the local one?”

I was angry, but I held it in. It’s Canada, not Korea, where we’re used to ‘fast and furious,’ but this was too much. The South Korean women’s national baseball team, which competed in the qualifiers for the Women’s World Cup 2024, has been victimized by the clumsy administration of the tournament’s organizing committee, the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC).

The problems started with the umpires. In the top of the fourth inning of a 1-5 loss to Australia on Nov. 11 (KST), leadoff hitter Park So-yeon singled to clean left field. This set the stage for the team to tie the score. When Joo Eun-jung came to bat, Park tried to steal second base, and it looked like she would be safe at second with a flying slide. However, the umpire called her out.

For a moment, everyone panicked. Park insisted that it was safe, but the call was not overturned. He was stunned and couldn’t get up from the second base for a while.

Incorrect calls that result in an out are not uncommon in baseball. It happens all the time in the KBO and even in Major League Baseball (MLB). But this one was a little different. It was a ‘three-judge system’.

When Park slid into head first, there was no umpire at second base. The umpire at third base saw Park stealing and rushed to second base. The third base umpire of the game, Elise Lallement (Canada), was rushing to second base, leaving the question of how accurate the call was.

The Women’s Baseball World Cup 2024 qualifiers in Thunder Bay, Canada, are being played under the three-umpire system. Naturally, there is no video replay.

But not all international women’s baseball tournaments are like this. The 2023 Women’s Baseball Asian Cup (BFA) in Hong Kong at the end of May was a four-umpire tournament. The games were officiated by the first, second, third, and fourth umpires. The regional qualifiers, which are one step lower than the Women’s Baseball World Cup, also used the four-referee system, while the world championships use the three-referee system.

Hwang Jeong-hee, president of the Women’s Baseball Association of Korea (WBAK), who traveled to Canada with the team, said, “All the hard work of the players who have been sweating and practicing is being wasted by these ridiculous calls.”

In fact, in the game against Hong Kong, several of the national team’s players who were called out for balking due to the umpire’s inconsistent “strike calls” broke down in tears after the game, which ended in an 8-9 loss to Hong Kong.

Hwang said, “Our players are good, but we traveled 20 hours to come here to play hard against foreign players and to see and learn from their advanced baseball culture. But because of this kind of judgment and the clumsy administration of the organizing committee, I feel sorry and angry that everything we have prepared with our best efforts will end in vain,” he said.

“Do you even know the rules of baseball?”

That’s what umpire Alessia Cicconi (ITA) said to the boy who was translating for Yang when the Korean national team’s head coach, Yang Sang-moon, came out to protest during the game against Australia.

When he protested through the interpreter, he was told, “Don’t protest without knowing the rules.” This was a disrespectful remark to the Korean national team and its manager, Yang Sang-moon. Yang became enraged and argued with the umpire, saying, “I know baseball.”

On the same day, umpire Chiconi criticized pitcher Lee Ji-sook, who was in relief on the mound, for drooling on the rosin powder as she brushed it off, and called for a runner to be moved, which is not a penalty under the rules. He made the comment after Yang ran out of the dugout to protest. However, umpire Chiconi eventually realized his error and corrected the call by awarding a single ball.

The WBSC’s atrocities didn’t stop there. On Wednesday, the team was scheduled to play their fourth game of the preliminary round against Canada. The first two games of the day were rained out.

The tournament organizers emailed officials from the Korean Women’s Baseball Federation and said, “We will update you on the field situation at 2 p.m.” But by 2 p.m., there was still no response, and 31 minutes later, they said, “The first two games have been canceled, but the Canada-Korea game will have to wait a little longer. We will update you again at 5 p.m.”.

An official from the Korean Women’s Baseball Federation protested to the organizers, and finally, at 5 p.m., the organizers called the federation and said, “The Korea-Canada game has been postponed due to rain. The game will be held on the 14th, but the time is undecided.” The official email came 54 minutes later.

As a result, the team spent the rest of the day in their rooms, unable to rest or exercise.

In addition, the organizers delayed the game against Australia due to a pitch problem, which is not the way an international tournament should be organized.

The fence at Port Arthur Stadium, where the game was scheduled to be played, collapsed due to strong winds the day before the game, but the organizers hadn’t checked the field conditions beforehand, and when the team headed to the stadium after training, they told the team, “We need to repair the fence, so please go back to your accommodation”.

However, the bus that was supposed to take the team to their accommodation did not arrive for more than 20 minutes. In the end, the team spent 20 minutes on the street, and after entering the dormitory in a bus that was not the national team bus but a special bus for the Australian national team with the team’s luggage, the team came out again 10 minutes later and headed to the field to play.

Hwang Jeong-hee said, “The tournament organizers have not been able to properly manage the physical condition of the national team players. “It’s partly because we’re not good enough, but we’re not playing well for various reasons. Even the glove that I pitched 2.1 innings in the previous day, the organizers asked me to use a different glove with useless comments, and in many ways, it was unfortunate.”

“I’m worried that these things will pile up and hurt the players, and that they will lose their desire to go to the world tournament again,” Hwang said, adding that she was worried about the feelings of the players most affected.안전놀이터

The KWF will send a formal letter of protest to the tournament organizers ahead of their game against Mexico on Wednesday (June 12), as well as request a meeting with the head of the Women’s World Cup organizing committee.

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