The case presented to court would fall under Article 101 and 102 pertaining to “abuse of position”.
The International Padel Federation (FIP) and the Professional Players Association (PPA) has filed a case against the World Padel Tour (WPT) at the European Commission on Wednesday for its abuse of power against players.
The latest action by the FIP, the governing body of the sport, comes following complaints by top padel players under the WPT’s restraining contracts.
Under their contracts, the players are not allowed to freely participate in any non-WPT tournament in the world. The WPT, which is run by run by Spanish beer company Estrella-Damm, does not operate under the FIP.
According to the FIP, players under the WPT experience “black-out non-paid periods, almost no prize money, and little decision-making powers”.
The WPT had reportedly threatened the players in the past with legal action and fines of up to €500,000.
“This legal action 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,” said Luigi Carraro, President of the FIP.
With the only official and fully regulated padel tour taking place in Qatar on 28 March, players under the WPT cannot participate in the event.
This prompted the submission of the case on behalf of 51 federations and professional padel players around the world in Brussels. It is filed against both the WPT and Estrella Damm.
The plaintiffs said the case comes under the “under infringement of European law for the closed ‘Super League’ enforced on padel for the last decade”.
The case was filed under Article 101, pertaining the prevention, restriction and distortion of competition. Another infringement involves the “abuse of dominant position”.
“For years under WPT and detached from the Federation, professional players have been treated as assets, not athletes – with many players barely able to cover their costs,” said the Board of Directors of the PPA.
“It shouldn’t take the European Commission to free the players and the sport of padel from this sorry situation, but the players will take whatever action needed to defend their livelihoods and to develop a better future for padel.”
Padel tour in Qatar
The upcoming padel tour comprises 10 tournaments scheduled for each of 2022 and 2023, and with the support of top players and its partnership with Qatar Sports Investments (QSI).
The number of tournaments per year is expected to rise to over 25 by 2024.
Qatar is also reportedly seeking to set up a new professional circuit for padel.
Padel is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and has over 25 million players around the world, a number that has doubled over the past five years alone.
The FIP is also seeking to include the sport at the Olympic Games as soon as Los Angeles 2028. In November last year, Qatar hosted the World Padel Championship, which was the first time an Arab country held such an event.