It is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, a cross between tennis and squash enjoyed by Andy Murray, Jürgen Klopp and thousands of others across the UK. But the future of padel could soon be fought over not only on the court but also in the courtroom, after the sport’s governing body accused the International Tennis Federation (ITF) of trying to mount a “hostile” takeover.
The Guardian may reveal that the International Padel Federation (FIP) has sent letters to the ITF threatening legal action amid claims that tennis is trying to make a “hostile attempt to take over the governance of padel without the consent of the IFJ or its members”.
It comes as the ITF prepares to vote at its AGM in Glasgow on Monday on a proposal to “extend its scope to develop and govern padel on behalf of its members”.
Padel, which was 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 fast with over 89,000 active players. There are also rival pro tours and the sport is also pushing for inclusion in the Olympics.
However, the popularity of padel has also attracted the interest of the ITF, which wants to include it in the broader arena of tennis.
The ITF AGM agenda states: “By including padel in its scope, the ITF would have a mandate from ITF members to act as the world governing body with the overall goals of harmonization of sporting rules, fostering the growth and development of padel, advancing the interests of padel and promoting its integrity and reputation”.
However, IFJ President Luigi Carraro has 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 (legal, constitutional, practical or otherwise) for it to play any role in the administrative affairs of the sport”, Carraro added in a letter. , which has been seen by The Guardian, this week.
“It goes without saying that the IFJ is prepared to take immediate and strong action should the ITF take any action that affects the legal rights of the IFJ,” it adds.
“The ITF’s actions would also be a serious violation of the principles of the Olympic Charter and the IOC. [International Olympic Committee] Code of Ethics, which makes it clear that sports must be able to function autonomously… and refrain from acts or statements that could tarnish the image of a rival federation or damage it in any way.”
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 around the world and much of the growth of the sport is happening in padel clubs. tennis given the crossover and the ability to share infrastructure, including players, coaches, officials and facilities.
“As a result, its members have asked the ITF to consider how we can support them in the global development of Padel and will vote on this at our AGM. If the National Associations vote for us to play a role, the ITF will endeavor to move forward in collaboration with existing stakeholders, including the IFJ and other tour organisers.”