By Michael Pavitt

World number one's Samurai Japan are to take on a European team ©Getty ImagesFor the first time a baseball team representing Europe will be established and will make their debut against world number one ranked Samurai Japan, President of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WSBC) Riccardo Fraccari has announced.

The new team will see the top European baseball players united from the 43 WBSC Member National Federations in the continent.

They will then travel to Tokyo to take on Samurai Japan in a two-game series held on March 10 and 11 in the iconic 55,000 seat Tokyo Dome that will mark the first time an entire continent will be represented in an official international baseball competition.

"This is an unprecedented and historic event that signifies baseball's expansion into a totally new format," said Fraccari.

"I am confident that this new type of international baseball competition being rolled out by WBSC will be exciting and highly appealing to the players, fans and key stakeholders.

"It will be a great source of pride and validation for those nations whose players are selected to represent Europe, and this new concept that we are realising will provide an additional platform with which to raise the profile and brand of baseball in Europe and within each respective nation."

The matchup between the newly established team and the world number one ranked side appears to continue WBSC's drive for inclusion at the Tokyo Olympics, with the series set to take place in the 2020 host city.

The series is likely to be extremely well supported as the Japanese Nippon Professional Baseball league (NPB) was the second most attended major sports league in the world last year, with 23 million fans attending fixtures across the country.

The two-match series will take place at the Tokyo Dome, which will also host Premier 12 matches ©Getty ImagesThe two-match series will take place at the Tokyo Dome, which will also host Premier 12 matches ©Getty Images

Hiroki Kokubo, who guided Samurai Japan to victory over Team MLB in a best-of-five series last November, is in the process of touring various training camps of NPB clubs in Japan in order to build a national team of star players for the series.

Kokubo believes the matches will prove to be a vital step towards finalising his team ahead of the inaugural WBSC Premier 12 Professional World Championship, which will see the top 12 ranked countries in the world compete in Japan and Taiwan during November.

"Considering the WBSC Premier 12 coming up, I think this match-up with Europe, feeling each other, will be important," the Samurai Japan leader said.

His side will come up against a European team led by current Netherlands national team manager Steve Janssen, who will be supported by Italy's manager Marco Mazzieri, with both managers also set to lead their respective nations in the Premier 12 competition.

"It is a tremendous honour and great responsibility to lead and playing against one of the best teams in the world is going to be a very exciting and challenging first test," said Janssen.

The official look and team kit design for Team Europe are currently under development and are likely to be announcement the next few weeks along with the official team rosters.

Tickets for the Europe vs Samuari Japan Series can be bought here.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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