World Padel Tour’s (WPT) players are currently seeking a way out of their contracts through the European Commission in Brussels. Doha News has learned that the players will file a formal complaint within days.
The International Padel Federation (FIP) has launched the only official and fully regulated padel tour on Monday, marking a new chapter in the sport’s fast-growing history.
“Finally, our sport has the freedom to shape its destiny; and under FIP’s governance we will develop the sport in every corner of the world across all levels – including beginner, amateur, youth and professional padel,” said FIP President Luigi Carraro.
The tour is set to kick off its first major game in March, with at least 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.
The tour will include four top category events that will take place in what the FIP has described as “spectacular venues” across the globe.
“QSI is proud to be building and shaping the long-term future of padel— and creating something really special for the fans—in partnership with the International Padel Federation and the players,” stated Nasser Al-Khelaifi, President of Qatar Sports Investments.
FIP, the governing body of the sport, said that the tour is taking place under the wider international sports community and institutions, in a move to further shift the sport to the mainstream.
“This new chapter for padel under the leadership of FIP sees the professionalisation and globalisation of the sport fully supported by the world’s leading players, represented by the Professional Players Association (PPA); and a new global strategic partnership with QSI,” read part of the FIP’s announcement.
Players to take case to Brussels
However, this is an issue for a number of top padel players restrained under their contracts with the World Padel Tour (WPT)—which is run by Spanish beer company Estrella-Damm and does not operate under the FIP.
Under their contracts, the players are not allowed to freely participate in any non-WPT tournament in the world, driving the players to take their case to the European Commission in Brussels.
A source with knowledge told Doha News on Tuesday that the FIP and PPA are expected to file a complaint within the coming days.
The source noted that the case presented would come in line with Article 101 and 102 pertaining to “abuse of position” and monopolising sports, as the players have been controlled by the WPT.
The WPT reportedly threatened the players with legal actions and fines of up to €500,000.
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 did so.