From one court to another? Padel and tennis at war against a “hostile” takeover | Tennis
is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, a cross between tennis and squash which is enjoyed by Andy Murray, Jürgen Klopp and thousands of others across the UK. But the future of padel could soon be fought over not just on the court but in the courtroom – after the sport’s governing body accused the International Tennis Federation (ITF) of trying to mount a takeover “hostile”.
The Guardian can reveal that on Friday the International Padel Federation (FIP) filed a complaint against the ITF before the Court of Arbitration for Sport amid allegations that tennis is trying to make a “hostile attempt to take over the governance of padel without the consent of FIP or its members”.
It comes as the ITF prepares to vote at its annual general meeting in Glasgow on Monday on a proposal to “broaden its scope to develop and govern padel on behalf of its members”.
Padel, invented in Mexico in the 1960s, has grown rapidly in recent years and has become one of the most popular participation sports in Spain, Sweden, Argentina and Italy. Great Britain is also catching up with over 89,000 active players. There are also rival professional tours and the sport is also pushing for inclusion in the Olympics.
However, padel’s popularity has also sparked interest from the ITF, which wants to incorporate it into the broader remit of tennis.
The ITF AGM agenda states: “By including padel in its scope, the ITF would have the mandate of ITF members to act as the global governing body with the general objectives of harmonizing sporting rules, fostering the growth and development of padel, advancing the interests of padel and promoting its integrity and reputation.
However, FIP President Luigi Carraro told the ITF that such a move would be a “serious breach” of the Olympic Charter.
“Throughout the existence of the sport, the ITF has never had any involvement in padel… and there is no basis – legally, constitutionally, practically or otherwise – for it to assert a role in the administrative affairs of the sport,” Carraro added in a letter. , which was seen by the Guardian, this week.
“It goes without saying that the FIP stands ready to take immediate and vigorous action should the ITF take any action that impacts the legal rights of the FIP,” he added.
“The ITF’s actions would also constitute a serious violation of the principles of the Olympic Charter and the IOC [International Olympic Committee] Code of Ethics, which specifies that the sport must be able to function autonomously… and refrain from acts or declarations likely to tarnish the image of a rival federation or harm it in any way whatsoever.
An ITF spokesperson said: “More than 100 of the ITF National Tennis Association members are already leading or actively contributing to the development of Padel tennis around the world and much of the growth of the sport. occurs in tennis clubs given crossover and ability. to share infrastructure, including players, coaches, officials and facilities.
“As a result, the ITF has been asked by its members to consider how we can support them in the global development of Padel and they will vote on this at our AGM. If national associations vote in favor of our role , the ITF would seek to make progress in collaboration with existing stakeholders, including the FIP and other tour operators.