Baseball’s world governing body has threatened to withdraw its sanctioning of the World Baseball Classic, with its championships planned for San Diego’s Petco Park in March, unless the Bush administration allows Cuba to compete.
Rich Levin, a spokesman for the commissioner’s office, said Friday that a letter was faxed from International Baseball Federation President Aldo Notari, informing Major League Baseball of the federation’s decision.
It is unclear whether the 16-team tournament, scheduled for March 3-20, would go forward without the federation’s sanction. The tournament is being jointly administered by Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association.
The championship games of the tournament are set for Petco Park March 18 and 20.
The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control in mid-December denied the request for a license to allow Cuba to participate. The license is necessary because of U.S. laws governing certain commercial transactions with the Fidel Castro-controlled nation.
Baseball reapplied on Dec. 22 after Cuba said it would donate any money it earned from its participation to victims of Hurricane Katrina. The commissioner’s office and the union said OFAC had not told them of its decision on the revised application.
“We’re hopeful that Cuba will be able to play,” Levin said.