Padel aiming for global boom, but power struggle lurks


LONDON, Feb 17 (Reuters) – With surging participation ranges, movie star endorsements and ambitions to grow to be an Olympic occasion, these would look like heady days for padel, however an influence battle for management of the racket sport is clouding the horizon.Invented by Mexican businessman Enrique Corcuera in 1969, padel is a hybrid of tennis and squash and is firmly established in Spain and Argentina with hundreds of thousands of gamers.Now its recognition has unfold to such an extent that former world primary tennis participant Andy Murray has invested in an organization aiming to construct 500 padel courts throughout Britain, Liverpool soccer supervisor Juergen Klopp has put in padel courts on the membership’s coaching floor and soccer greats Zinedine Zidane and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are each converts.Register now for FREE limitless entry to Reuters.comRegisterEarlier this month the Worldwide Padel Federation (FIP) introduced that it was launching a brand new tour it says will lastly banish the game’s area of interest existence and develop its international profile.World primary Alejandro Galan, who can be president of the Skilled Gamers Affiliation (PPA), mentioned it might be “transformational” for the game whereas FIP president Luigi Carraro mentioned it might assist obtain his ambition of getting padel on the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.With monetary backing from Qatar Sports activities Investments (QSI), the tour would develop to supply the world’s prime gamers 25 occasions by 2024, embrace 4 class one occasions likened to tennis’s majors, an FIP rating system and prizemoney will increase.The primary class one occasion will likely be held in Doha beginning on March 28 with prize cash totalling 525,000 euros ($596,505).”The world has solely seen the tip of the iceberg of what the game of padel can obtain on the worldwide stage,” Nasser Al-Khelaifi, chairman of Qatar Sports activities Investments, mentioned.The sticking level, nevertheless, is that the privately-owned World Padel Tour already exists, operated by Setpoint Occasion and sponsored by Spanish beer firm Estrella Damm.World Padel Tour is widespread with followers and broke attendance data in 2021 and as a part of its globalisation technique, it not too long ago introduced that Spanish media company Mediapro had purchased the worldwide broadcasting rights.This season’s WPT begins in Miami this month and can embrace 24 occasions, together with in Mexico and the Center East.Most of the world’s prime gamers are tied in till 2023 and, in keeping with the PPA, have been threatened with massive fines by the WPT in the event that they decide to play in rival tournaments.In a letter from the PPA to the World Padel Tour, seen by Reuters, the PPA accuses WPT of undermining the “professionalization” and “integrity” of the game by handing out wildcards to non professionals and disallowing rating factors from non WPT occasions, making it arduous for lower-ranked gamers to proceed.”In brief, your mannequin represents extra of an novice and industrial circus — absolutely consolidated by your newest actions — than an expert circuit pushed by main gamers and controlled by the corresponding Federative physique,” the letter signed by the PPA Board of Administrators mentioned.Whereas the FIP tour has been warmly welcomed by the gamers, it has left them in an ungainly place and a supply near the scenario mentioned authorized motion is being thought of by the gamers and the Federation in opposition to WPT contracts they declare are in opposition to EU competitors guidelines.The World Padel Tour is but to answer a Reuters request for remark.Spaniard Paquito Navarro, who’s third on the WPT rankings, says the announcement by the FIP of a brand new tour is “an enormous step ahead” in making the game extra international.However he additionally acknowledges the position World Padel Tour has performed in his 10 years as an expert.”My intention is to play each excursions as a result of we wish to respect the contract with World Padel Tour, however we additionally wish to be free to earn somewhat extra money.”I respect the World Padel Tour contact however I additionally suppose the QSI (backed) tour is one of the best ways to go. We wish to be autonomous and play in all of the tournaments that we wish.”Whether or not he will get his want might be determined not on the padel courts however within the regulation courts until a compromise is reached.($1 = 0.8801 euros)Register now for FREE limitless entry to Reuters.comRegisterReporting by Martyn Herman
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