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Baseball rescue plan touted by Taiwan premier

Liu wants Taiwan's favorite sport cleaned up before public support dwindles further

Baseball rescue plan touted by Taiwan premier

The Cabinet-level Sports Affairs Council will present a plan to rescue Taiwanese baseball before the end of the month, Premier Liu Chao-shiuan said yesterday.
Taiwan's team was eliminated from the World Baseball Classic in Tokyo Saturday after defeats by South Korea and China. The country's poor performance at international tournaments follows long-term problems including several game-fixing scandals involving organized crime.
Liu said the plan would also include basketball and pool, two other sports regarded as having lost public support recently. First moves for a revival package had been made in January, long before last weekend's embarrassing defeats, according to the premier.
SAC Director Tai Hsia-ling told lawmakers that a plan to give corporations tax rebates for investing in sports would be ready by June. Other proposals would include encouraging local governments to form teams. The government had consulted sports teams and associations about its proposals, Tai said.
Liu denied media reports he had been angered by Taiwan's second defeat by China within less than a year, following the Beijing Olympics last August. He said he was worried about the poor environment for the sport in Taiwan, vowing to root out game-fixing and illegal gambling.
Baseball commentators and trainers said there should be a rating system for international games, allowing teams to work harder in preparing for really important competitions instead of letting them waste their efforts on minor games.
One of the problems has been that players active in the United States have been unwilling to return to play for the national team. In some cases, their overseas teams have stopped them from heading for Taiwan because they fear the players might suffer injuries.
Professional baseball players also need time to recover from domestic games instead of being drafted for international competitions, commentators said. When representing the nation, the players face more serious pressure from fans to perform, increasing their burden.
The national team coach, Yeh Chih-hsien, told reporters that another possible solution, recruiting a foreign coach, was not necessarily a panacea for Taiwan's problems.
Another frequently mentioned problem besetting the country's top sport was the rivalry between the two major organizations, the Chinese Professional Baseball League and the Chinese Taipei Baseball Association.
Prominent corporations named in the media as potential saviors of the sport, including transportation giant Evergreen, Chunghwa Telecom and China Steel Corp., were said to be less than enthusiastic about the cause, reports said.
Legislators came up with the idea yesterday for a baseball game between a team of Cabinet members and another team consisting of lawmakers to fire up public enthusiasm for the sport.
Opposition Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Tsai Huang-liang said the Cabinet should form a special baseball revival taskforce which should complete a full package of suggestions within three months.
Kuomintang lawmaker Huang Chih-hsiung, taekwondo silver medalist at the 2004 Athens Olympics, said the main reason why national teams failed to attract talented players was that the candidates were unsure about their careers after sports. In order to help them, the government should give them beneficial treatment in state exams or in job exams at state-run enterprises, Huang said.
The fear also played a part in the recent decision by pool champion Wu Chia-ching to seek Singaporean citizenship, reports said.


Updated : 2020-12-03 01:11 GMT+08:00