Tennis: Gerard Pique’s Kosmos yet to pay prize money to Davis Cup players

Tennis: Gerard Pique’s Kosmos yet to pay prize money to Davis Cup players

Updated: 17 days, 19 hours, 11 minutes, 29 seconds ago

PARIS - Prize money for players taking part in last season’s Davis Cup has yet to be paid by the Kosmos group, whose partnership with the International Tennis Federation (ITF) was terminated.

“The money will be paid in due course when the pre-conditions are met by the nations,” Kosmos said in a statement sent to AFP.

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”.

On Thursday, the ITF ended its Davis Cup agreement with the Kosmos group, which is headed by Spanish footballer Gerard Pique, less than five years after a 25-year deal, worth US$3 billion (S$3.96 billion), was signed.

The revamped Davis Cup, first played in 1900, has attracted widespread criticism for its new format which broke away from its traditional system of home and away ties, favouring city-based events instead.

“Kosmos Tennis and the ITF have not reached an agreement to renegotiate the business model, as well as the current and future rights requested by the ITF,” added the Kosmos statement on Friday.

The ITF said on Thursday that the partnership was ending five years into the agreement, which was unveiled in 2018 amid much fanfare over promises to deliver “long-term benefits” for fans and all stakeholders of the game.

That figure 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.

“In response to the ITF’s public statement yesterday, it appears that Kosmos Tennis and the ITF were unable to reach an agreement to renegotiate the business model, as well as the current and future fee requested by the ITF,” the Kosmos spokesman added.

“This fee, which was significantly reduced during the pandemic, has varied over the years of collaboration and was recently raised again.

“Kosmos has paid in full the 2022 fee. Prize money shall be paid in due time when requirements from nations are met.”

The ITF, the sport’s governing body, 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.

The deal with Kosmos – which is fronted by former Barcelona player Pique – was followed by an overhaul of the men’s team competition. Since 2019, as part of a new format, 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 last year saw teams compete in a group stage in September, with the top eight advancing to the Finals.

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