Baseball / IAB: Israelis, Czechs Sign Mutual Recognition Agreement

Deal allows Israeli players to join Czech leagues.

Haaretz Sports
Tal Erel catching for Tempo in Czech baseball's Premier League this season.
Tal Erel catching for Tempo in Czech baseball's Premier League this season.Credit: Yaron Erel
Haaretz Sports

The Israel Association of Baseball and the Czech Baseball Association have signed an agreement recognizing Israeli baseball players as holders of European passports, permitting them to play in the Czech baseball leagues. The agreement also allows Czech players to play in the Israeli leagues.

The IAB is a member of the Confederation of European Baseball and participates in national tournaments throughout Europe. This agreement extends Israeli baseball’s presence in European baseball, enabling elite Israeli players to join the Czech leagues.

There are 6,780 baseball players in the Czech Republic. There are four leagues for players aged 16 and up, as well as youth teams that include players from age 3. The CBA is the nonprofit organization that oversees all the leagues and tournaments throughout the Czech Republic.

This agreement is another step in building on the long-time cooperation that Israel baseball has had with the Czech Republic, which includes Israeli baseball’s participation in tournaments in Czech Republic and coaching cooperation — Richard Kania, the head coach of the Israel senior national team, was first assigned as a European Envoy coach in Israel by the European confederation in 2008, and since then has been instrumental in developing relations between Israeli and Czech baseball.

“The door is now open to Israeli players who have reached a pinnacle in their local careers to gain valuable international experience in the Czech leagues, as well as enabling Czech players to join the leagues in Israel,” said Peter Kurz, president and national director of the IAB. “We have always had an excellent relationship with the CBA. We now look forward to raising the bar on our collaboration and further developing baseball in both countries,” Kurz said.

“We are very excited to be expanding our excellent relations with Israel baseball,” said Petr Ditrich, president of the Czech Baseball Association. “With this agreement, not only will our players benefit from being able to play in each other’s leagues, but we will also extend our cooperation in our youth programs, national teams, coach exchanges, and more.”

Senior Israeli national team player Tal Erel, who holds a European passport, plays in the Czech Premier League for the Tempo Titans club and recently participated in the league’s All Star weekend tournament in Prague. The new agreement will allow Israeli players who do not have European passports to play in the Czech Republic.