World Padel Tour (WPT), the international series for the tennis-like racket sport, has suffered another legal blow in its dispute with the new Premier Padel tour after a Spanish court dismissed its request to stop and prevent players from participating in the rival championship.
The request was rejected by Commercial Court No. 15 of Madrid last week after a lawsuit was filed by Setpoint Events, the owner of WPT.
WPT has been at loggerheads with Premier Padel, the new tour organized by the International Padel Federation (FIP) in collaboration with business group Qatar Sports Investment (QSI), since the new competition's launch at the start of February.
Last week’s ruling in Madrid was the latest unsuccessful result for WPT.
At the end of May, WPT started legal action against the FIP, the Professional Players Association (PPA), and QSI claiming the trio was participating in "unfair competition" for attempting to exclude the WPT from the market and replacing it with the Premier Padel Tour.
In the lawsuit, the WPT said the FIP had distanced itself from its role as an impartial non-profit regulatory body.
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WPT’s filing requested the Madrid court in Spain to accept precautionary measures, including suspending the Premier Padel circuit.
However, the commercial court in Madrid dismissed the measures requested by WPT and suspended its hearing in July for failing to submit its filing properly.
Meanwhile, the Civil and Commercial Court of Arbitration of Madrid (CIMA) also rejected WPT’s separate breach of contract case against players participating in Premier Padel.
The Commercial Court No. 15 of Madrid has now completely dismissed such interim measures, ruling that there was no legal basis to do so.
The court stated that WPT’s existing contracts give it significant control of the sport of padel – due to the combination of WPT’s exclusivity, black-out periods, and other legal measures – which affects competition, and added that professional players have a right to compete on other tours.
The ruling also noted that WPT’s existence as a tour should be reliant on open competition, not pressuring players to be bound by exclusivity.
In addition, the separate arbitration brought by WPT against the players, seeking €25 million ($25.6 million) in damages, has been suspended.
In May, the FIP and PPA filed a lawsuit with the European Commission against WPT for anti-competitive conduct concerning its contracts with padel players.
Ziad Hammoud, member of the board of Premier Padel, said: “Ultimately, it should come as no surprise that the request brought by one of the most anti-competitive tours in world sport – to stop another open tour – was completely dismissed.
“We have faced a year of the fiercest legal threats and media briefings by WPT, but the end result is always the same. WPT’s actions are the antithesis of responsible sports administration and fly in the face of supporting the global development of a sport, player freedoms, and player welfare.”
Luigi Carraro, president of the FIP, added: “This past week has been definitive for anyone in doubt about the future of padel. The ITF lost its hostile vote to take over padel, and WPT has emphatically lost its latest legal case seeking to enforce its monopoly according to news reports.
“The International Padel Federation will continue to work night and day to promote the sport of padel – both at professional and amateur level – across the world, while defending the right of the professional players to have the very best opportunities to play and pursue their amazing careers.”