The legal action of the FIP and the Association of Professional Padel Players is the first initiative of this type that is carried out before the European Commission.
(25-2-2022). The International Padel Federation and the Professional Padel Players Association (PPA) have filed a complaint with the European Commission against the company that organizes the World Padel Tour professional circuit, Setpoint Events, SA
The complaint filed by the International Padel Federation and the Association of Professional Padel Players (PPA) constitutes, according to the Padel Addict website, the first legal action before the European Commission by a federation and professional athletes.
The plaintiffs maintain as arguments of the lawsuit that the players would have the intention to continue playing in the tournaments of the World Padel Tour, but, when the respective calendars allow it, also participate in those of the FIP Championship, a championship promoted by the FIP, the PPA and that enjoys the economic support of the investment fund Qatar Sport Investments.
According to the text of the lawsuit, “the WPT contract contains a series of far-reaching exclusivity obligations and blackout clauses that, with a very limited number of exceptions, prevent players from participating in padel tournaments of the competition”. In that sense, the lawsuit highlights the WPT’s ban on “players ranked among the top 20 in the ranking, being able to participate in competing tournaments, while players above the top 20 are only allowed to do so with the prior authorization of the WPT”.
The players add that they “are not only obliged to participate in all the scheduled WPT events, but also to respect a blackout period 7 days before and 7 days after each World Padel Tour event, a clause that, together with the WPT schedule makes it virtually impossible for players to participate in competitive events.”
The plaintiffs on the part of the players also highlight that the breach of these obligations dictated by the WPT “is subject to significant economic sanctions and, in the past, players who have tried to participate in competition tournaments have been sanctioned by Setpoint through the reduction of the prizes foreseen in the contract. In fact, the WPT has recently sent a letter to players threatening to take legal action against any player trying to join the FIP Championship.”
“ABUSIVE AND EXPLOITIVE MONOPOLY”
For his part, the president of the FIP, Luigi Carraro, argues the lawsuit in “the abusive and exploitative monopoly regime of the World Padel Tour, which has kept padel players under its claws for years, insulting professional athletes, and stifling the global growth and ambition of our sport.”
In Carraro’s opinion, “the fact that this action had to be presented is, in itself, a scandalous situation”. The head of the International Padel Federation, states that “private, closed leagues, which operate commercially and are not regulated, and which, in addition, imprison professional players, have absolutely no place in modern professional sport”.
“PROFESSIONALS TREATED AS ASSETS”
From the Board of Directors of the Professional Players Association (PPA) sources have stated that “for years, under the WPT and detached from the Federation, professional players have been treated as assets, not as athletes, and many of them they can barely cover their expenses.”
The same sources of said association of athletes conclude that “the European Commission should not be necessary to free the players and the sport of paddle tennis from this unfortunate situation, but the players will take any necessary action to defend their livelihoods and develop a future better for padel”.