Rouen in France will host the first European Women's Baseball Championship later this year, an event being jointly launched by the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) and the Confederation of European Baseball (CEB).
The new event will first be staged in July and contested every year prior to the WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup, with the winners earning an automatic place at the tournament.
Hosting rights for the inaugural competition have been awarded to the city which is home to the French national baseball champions, club Rouen Huskies, in collaboration with the French Federation of Baseball and Softball (FFBS).
The Czech Baseball Association and FFBS are launching women’s national baseball team programmes and will contest the first European title with the Netherlands.
The winners will qualify for the 2020 WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup.
"This is an historic day in the evolution of baseball, reflecting the continued growth of our game internationally and among young players and women here in Europe,” said CEB President Didier Seminet.
WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari added: “The launch of the European Women’s Baseball European Championship reflects modern times, sends a message that baseball can be played by anyone and helps to break down stereotypes associated with women in sport.
“The launch of this European Championship also adds an exciting new storyline to the Women’s Baseball World Cup, boosting its profile and the sport of baseball in Europe.
“WBSC commends and congratulates the baseball leaders in Europe for this important initiative, which will be heard worldwide.”
The women’s national teams of the Czech Republic, France and Netherlands will compete in a double round-robin, with the top two teams advancing to the final.
The Royal Netherlands Baseball and Softball Federation was the first European federation to launch a women’s baseball national team programme.
The Dutch have represented Europe in five editions of WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup, including last year’s edition in Viera, Florida.