Tennis: Gerard Pique’s Kosmos takes Davis Cup row with ITF to top sports court

Former footballer Gerard Pique's investment group Kosmos is involved in a legal dispute with the International Tennis Federation. PHOTO: REUTERS

MADRID - Gerard Pique’s investment group Kosmos has taken its dispute with the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), citing “unjustified termination” of its contract to organise the Davis Cup.

The former Barcelona defender’s company is “claiming damages” in a multimillion-dollar lawsuit, a spokesman said on Wednesday.

Earlier in January, the ITF announced the end of the agreement with Kosmos, originally a 25-year deal worth US$3 billion (S$3.94 billion) which commenced in 2019.

A source close to the matter said the ITF and Kosmos had failed to reach a new financial agreement.

It has emerged in recent weeks that prize money for players taking part in last season’s Davis Cup had yet to be paid by Kosmos, with the group telling AFP in mid-January that “the money will be paid in due course when the pre-conditions are met by the nations”.

Asked to clarify these conditions, it said there are “documents and forms which must be sent (to them) in order to be able to make payments”.

Reports in Spain over the past week suggested that the ITF had been considering taking Kosmos to court over the issue. It is not known if the players have since been paid the money due to them.

The 2019 Davis Cup Finals were the first in a single-city format, one of the changes made under the widely-criticised partnership between the ITF and Kosmos.

The agreement was unveiled in 2018 amid much fanfare over promises to deliver “long-term benefits” for fans and all stakeholders of the game.

Part of the deal meant Kosmos promised to invest US$120 million a year, which was “significantly reduced” during the pandemic and varied in subsequent years, before being raised again recently, a company spokesman told Reuters earlier.

“Kosmos has paid in full the 2022 fee,” the spokesman added.

Since 2019, there has been one home-and-away round of ties followed by 18 teams competing in one city for a week-long finale to the season.

After the 2020 edition was postponed due to Covid-19, the 2021 finale was held across 11 days in three cities – Madrid, Turin and Innsbruck.

Another format tweak in 2022 saw teams compete in a group stage in September, with the top eight advancing to the Finals.

The ITF said it had financial contingencies in place and would operate the 2023 Davis Cup qualifiers and Finals as scheduled, with the Final 8 taking place in Malaga, Spain, in November.

Meanwhile, Kosmos will continue to be linked to tennis, having recently added Borna Coric, Elina Svitolina and Andrey Rublev to its list of represented athletes.

The spokesman said the company would continue with its other sporting projects. AFP, REUTERS

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.