The Japan Professional Baseball Players Association decided against participating in the next edition of the World Baseball Classic during a meeting on Friday in Osaka.
In what was called a “heartbreaking” decision by union head and Hanshin Tigers star Takahiro Arai, all 24 player representatives (two per team) voted against participating in the tournament, which is slated to be held in 2013. Japan won the previous two editions of the WBC in 2006 and 2009.
NPB had previously said it would participate in the event, though that decision hinged on JPBPA approval.
World Baseball Classic Inc. (WBC Inc.) officials still expect Japan to compete.
“The NPB has already announced that they will play in the next WBC and we fully expect them to have a team that will include the best Japanese players and one that all of Japan can be proud of,” Jim Small of WBC Inc. told the Japan Times in an email.
WBC Inc., had no further comment on the matter.
Compensation is at the root of the problem.
Last year, the union requested a bigger cut of tournament revenue and merchandising and sponsorship rights for the Japan national team.
The request, which at the time was supported by NPB, was turned down.
On its website, the union said it received 13 percent of WBC revenue, while MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association’s share was 66 percent.
NPB players reportedly still took home far more on average than their MLB counterparts.
NPB and WBC Inc. officials continued to try to reach a resolution (with WBC giving in to some demands), and NPB ultimately said last October that it would compete.
The union’s decision on Friday seems to have thrown a wrench in that plan for the moment.
“We have approached the (WBC) organizers since July of last year,” Arai was quoted as saying by Sankei Sports during a news conference in Osaka on Friday. “We threw the ball to them, but they’ve never thrown it back to us.”