Thu. Feb 22nd, 2024

Hexagon Cup features six teams, include sides backed by Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Robert Lewandowski
Players competing for prize pool of €1m

Padel is on course to become an “established global tier two sport” as it continues to grow in popularity across major markets, according to Hexagon Cup chairman and co-founder Simon Freer.

The inaugural Hexagon Cup takes place from 31st January to 4th February in Spain’s Madrid Arena, featuring teams backed by the likes of tennis icons Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal, as well as Barcelona striker Robert Lewandowski.

Last week saw the Hexagon Cup unveil its lineup of broadcast partners across the globe, which includes DAZN, Discovery+, Fox Sports and ITV. All told, the competition is set to reach 700 million households across more than 190 countries.

Freer is one of several founders of the Hexagon Cup, along with Enrique Buenaventura, Alejandro Agag and Alberto Longo, who are all behind the Formula E, Extreme E and E1 all-electric motorsport series.

The cofounders want the Hexagon Cup to offer ‘a new and disruptive approach’ and help transform the sport of padel, which is one of the world’s fastest growing sports. While new tournaments have sprung up in recent years, including Premier Padel backed by Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), Freer believes there is space for another competition to enter the mix. 

“We felt like the amateur game was growing super fast,” he told SportsPro.

“Everywhere you looked courses were popping up, lots of people enjoyed playing it because it’s fundamentally a great game. But we thought the commercial game hadn’t kept pace with the growth of the enthusiasm or consumer interest in it.

“There was lots of whitespace in the ecosystem for an innovative new product to come to market around padel.

“We felt strongly that to complement the established league [Premier Padel], there was an opportunity to put a competition or a major, if you want to analogise it to tennis, together but also to bring the teamification aspects that we have seen really work successfully elsewhere into what is fundamentally a solo pairs sport.”

The Hexagon Cup’s format sees see six teams divided into two qualifying groups and compete in a series of head-to-head matchups, with the top two teams from each group advancing to the finals. The tournament also boasts a €1 million (US$1.1 million) prize fund.  

That new format aims to help set the Hexagon Cup apart from other padel tournaments, a sport that the International Padel Federation (FIP) has stated is played by around 25 million people. Freer expects the number of participants to rise significantly, adding that more brands and broadcasters will get on board as the game develops professionally.

“I think padel is going to become an established global tier two sport,” he continued. “I’m not suggesting padel’s taken over football, but there are more active padel players in Spain than there are tennis players.”

“Padel has a genuine chance and expectation now to establish itself as a global tier two sport that’s here to stay.

“All of these second-tier sports have a great role to play nationally and internationally. I think padel is a rare sport that will break into it and not many do that.

“I think [sponsors and broadcasters] all recognise that padel is on a trajectory that it looks like it’s going to continue growing. It is super popular in South America, central and southern Europe, the Nordics, the Middle East. [It is] growing in popularity in the UK, France, Germany, the US.”

“If it breaks through and becomes a global tier two sport then people are going to want to have access to it and exposure to it, whether they’re broadcasters or sponsors.”

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