Japan's players union on Friday said it would not participate in the third edition of the World Baseball Classic, set for 2013, unless changes are made to the tournament.
At a meeting of the Nippon Professional Baseball Players Association, union chairman Takahiro Arai said in a statement that there were a number of issues with the invitational tournament, won both times by Japan.
Chief among the players grievances was the distribution of sponsorship revenue by the tournament's organizing body, WBC Incorporated.
"Until the WBCI recognizes the rights of individual countries to their sponsorship and licensing revenues, we will not participate," the statement said.
"At least half of the sponsorship revenue for the tournament is coming from Japanese companies. Yet, 66 percent of the profits went to MLB and the MLB player's association with just 13 percent going to Japan."
The union said the WBC should be organized along the lines of FIFA's World Cup and the Olympics.
Although this is a tack the Japan union has been taking since last autumn, Jim Small, MLB's vice president for Asia, said Friday's announcement came as a shock.
"We're very surprised at this announcement," Small told The Daily Yomiuri. "We don't think this is something Japanese fans are going to accept."
Negotiations concerning the tournament's organization are expected to take place in mid-August.