Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), a subsidiary of the Qatari sovereign wealth fund, is acquiring the World Padel Tour (WPT) from the Spanish Damm Group, the holder of the Estrella Damm beer brand.
This acquisition marks a significant turning point in the sport, as it paves the way for the unification of the WPT with QSI's Premier Padel tour, effectively giving QSI full ownership of the sport's upper echelons.
The road to this acquisition was not without its share of challenges. It brings an end to a lengthy period of legal disputes and rivalries between key players in the padel world.
Let's delve into the details of this historic development and its implications for the sport.
A Background Marred by Disputes
WPT required players to sign exclusivity contracts to compete in the World Padel Tour, effectively barring them from participating in other leagues.
Last year, upon the inauguration of the Premier Padel Tour, the world's top padel players and the International Padel Federation (FIP) jointly submitted a competition complaint to the European Commission. They accused Damm's Setpoint Events, which operates WPT, of violating EU law by distorting competition.
In response, WPT retaliated by suing players who joined Premier Padel and initiating legal action against FIP, the Professional Players Association (PPA), and QSI. It was a tangled web of legal battles that threatened to overshadow the sport's growth.
WPT also filed a retaliatory lawsuit against FIP, claiming that it was deviating from its role as an impartial, non-profit regulatory body.
QSI's Acquisition and Merger Plan
Qatar Sports Investments' acquisition of WPT is a game-changing development. Under the terms of the agreement, Premier Padel will now be the primary global padel tour. It will be operated by QSI but governed by the International Padel Federation (FIP).
This unifies two leading professional padel tours under the banner of Premier Padel.
The separate tours will continue with their planned schedules until the end of 2023.
As part of the acquisition, the parties - QSI, the Damm Group, and FIP - agreed to end their web of lawsuits.
The Impact on the Padel Industry
The impact of QSI's acquisition of WPT extends far beyond the boardroom. The global padel industry, already valued at over $2 billion, is projected to surpass $4 billion by 2026, according to a recent report from Deloitte.
The sport's popularity is on the rise, with 25 million people currently playing padel in 110 countries, compared to 16 million just two years ago.
This acquisition is set to accelerate the sport's international growth. QSI, the owner of the French football club, Paris Saint-Germain F.C., has extensive resources and a commitment to promoting padel worldwide.
This acquisition signifies a turning point in the professionalization and globalization of the sport.
Statements from Key Figures
Nasser Al-Kheilaifi, QSI's chair, expressed the significance of this historic moment, stating, "This is a historic moment for the sport of padel, ultimately seeing the two leading professional padel tours unified as one single global Premier Padel tour. As the fastest-growing sport globally, QSI is proud to be at the heart of driving the development of padel professionally all around the world, always placing the players at the center of our mission to grow the sport everywhere."
Demetrio Carceller Arce, executive chair at Damm, also shared his thoughts, saying, "The World Padel Tour is now beginning a new stage led by QSI, who will contribute to speeding up the tour's international growth. Damm is proud to have contributed to the development of professional padel, making the World Padel Tour a global benchmark, with over 4 million followers."
These statements underscore the commitment of both QSI and Damm to the growth and development of professional padel on a global scale.
The Future of Professional Padel
With Premier Padel set to become the unified global tour for professional padel, the future of the sport looks promising.
This merger promises to bring greater visibility, resources, and opportunities for players and fans alike. It's a testament to the resilience of the padel community, which has come together to overcome legal disputes and chart a new course for the sport.
In conclusion, from legal disputes to unity, QSI's acquisition of the World Padel Tour has shaken up the sport in a way that few could have anticipated.
It marks a pivotal moment in the history of professional padel and sets the stage for a brighter, more unified future for the sport worldwide.
As the sport continues to grow in popularity, the combined efforts of all stakeholders will play a crucial role in shaping the trajectory of padel in the years to come.
The World Padel Tour was formed in 2013 under the Damm Group. It has been organized by SetPoint Events, a Damm Group subsidiary.
Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) is a subsidiary of the Qatari sovereign wealth fund, who is acquiring the World Padel Tour (WPT) from the Spanish Damm Group.