- Associated Press - Thursday, June 2, 2011

The World Baseball Classic is expanding by 12 countries, with Israel, Thailand and France among the newcomers set to take part in 2013.

There will be 28 teams in the next competition that features major league players. Japan won the first two WBC events in 2006 and 2009.

The new nations will play in a 16-team qualifying round. The other first-time participants are: Brazil, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Great Britain, New Zealand, Nicaragua, the Philippines and Spain.

Winners from the qualifying round in the fall of 2012 advance to the WBC tournament in March 2013.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig says the expanded field helps grow the sport globally. The 12 new teams were picked based on several factors, including the future of each country’s baseball program.

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