Padel-International Padel Federation file complaint to EU over rival tour

© Reuters.

LONDON (Reuters) – The International Padel Federation (FIP) have filed a complaint to the European Commission against rival organisation World Padel Tour in the latest development of a struggle for control of the racket sport.

Earlier this month FIP announced it was creating a new world tour with backing from Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), calling it a transformational moment in the sport’s global growth.

However, the already-established World Padel Tour, owned by Setpoint Events and sponsored by Spanish beer company Estrella Damm, claims players are under contract and is blocking their involvement in the FIP tour with threats of fines.

The filing by FIP, in conjunction with the Professional Players Association, challenges WPT under Article 101 (preventing, restricting and distorting competition) and 102 (abuse of dominant position) of European Law.

Amongst the FIP’s claims are that the WPT binds players to ‘illegal’ exclusive contracts, offers them no say in decision-making processes, bars them from playing in non WPT events, and offers little in the way of prize money.

“This legal action at the European Commission by the Federation and the Professional Players Association is unprecedented,” Luigi Carraro, President of the International Padel Federation, said in a statement.

“It highlights in the clearest terms WPT’s abusive and exploitative monopoly regime, which has held padel players under its grip for years — insulting the professional athletes and stifling the global growth and ambition of the sport.

“The fact this action has been forced to be brought in the first place is a shocking indictment in itself of private, closed, commercially-exploitative and unregulated leagues that imprison the professional players.”

Carraro says he hopes the new tour will help him fulfil his ambition of padel becoming an Olympic sport by 2028.

The FIP say at least 10 new tournaments will be held this year, including four “category one” events with the first taking place in Doha, Qatar starting on March 28 where the prize money will be 525,000 euros ($595,402.50).

This season’s WPT, which recently announced that Spanish media agency Mediapro had bought the international broadcasting rights, began in Miami this month and will include 24 events, including in Mexico and the Middle East.

In its submission to the EU, the FIP said players ranked in the top 20 of the WPT rankings are not allowed to play in non-WPT events under the terms of their contracts.

Nearly all of the world’s top players compete in WPT but some, like world number three Paquito Navarro, want to be free to choose to compete in other tournaments.

“My intention is to play both tours because we want to respect the contract with World Padel Tour, but we also want to be free to earn a little more money,” he told Reuters.

The WPT have been contacted for comment.

Padel is a hybrid of tennis and squash and is hugely-popular in Spain and Argentina.

Its popularity has spiralled in recent years with former world number one tennis player Andy Murray having invested in a company aiming to build 500 padel courts across Britain.

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Padel-International Padel Federation file complaint to EU over rival tour

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