The controversy of the Spanish padel championship has raised doubts about how much a padel player earns and why some male players were incentivised with 5,000 euros for attending the tournament.
The World Padel Tournament that Spain won in the men's and women's categories in Doha also raises the question of whether a player can amass a fortune for playing padel.
No, the male padel player does not earn large sums of money and even less so the girls. What's more, most of the players in the top 10 of the rankings have advertising contracts that bring them more money than the World Padel Tour tournaments, but they have to play in the WPT for the brands to notice them. It's a circle within the reach of a few. Hence the extra 5,000 euros offered by the organiser of the Spanish Championships to the top players in the WPT rankings. Those players wouldn't have given lustre to the tournament because the 30,000 euros that the pair that lifts the title can win is a smaller amount than what they can win in a WPT event where more money is distributed according to the phase. With that extra they make it worth playing in the championship.
Top level padel is organised by WPT, a kind of ATP of tennis that is in charge of moving this sport all over Spain with several trips to Mexico, Sweden or Buenos Aires. This calendar is closed with the Spanish Padel Federation and the International Padel Federation so that there are dates on which World, European and Spanish Championships can be held. It has no direct competition because WPT has been very careful to tie down its stars and avoid leaks to another competition in the making that could come to Europe in the coming years, the APT Padel Tour. This new circuit is already offering players from previous tournaments money to avoid playing these rounds costing them money. If they get their hands on the padel quarry, they will have an assured future.
The WPT calendar is divided into 14 Opens, 5 Masters, 8 Challengers that cannot be played by the top 20 of the ranking, an exhibition tournament and the Final Master in Madrid.
The boys share 105,840 euros and start winning money from the 1/16 round where the 32 participants get 529 euros each. The champion pair pocket €10,584 each.
The girls share 40,320 euros, i.e. 60% less. A pair that falls in the quarter-finals earns 856 euros per player and the pair that wins the tournament, 3,830 euros each.
The amount distributed is 92,090 euros and they start awarding 287 euros to each player from the quarter-finals of the qualifying round. The winning pair pocket 9,209 euros each.
The girls share 35,280 euros from the 1/16 finals with 249 euros per player. The pair that lifts the final trophy will receive a cheque for 3,351 euros per player.
This type of trophy serves to motivate and give an economic incentive to the couples who cannot reach the final stages. The prize money is just 15,000 euros. In 1/16 they pocket 131 euros and the champions 1,425 euros per player.
The girls share 10,000 euros. If they fall in 1/16 they will have won the amount of 75 euros and if they win, 950 euros.
This is the big event of the season and only the best eight pairings in the WPT ranking take part. The prize money is 110,880 euros. The reserve pairing gets 2,217 euros; in the quarter finals, each player gets 3,742 euros; in the semifinals 5,821 euros; the finalists 11,088 euros each and the winners 16,632 euros per racket.
The girls have again seen their prizes cut in relation to the boys. An amount of 45,360 euros. The reserve pair pocket 322 euros; in the quarter-finals 1,530 per player; 2,381 in the semi-finals; 4,536 for the finalists and 6,804 for the winners.
It is true that the prizes in the women's category have improved economically in recent years and the level is very good. It is not as forced a discipline as women's football. Girls' padel is very well accepted and followed by the fans.
With these prizes we can conclude that of the 789 male and 461 female players in the WPT, a very small percentage can make a living playing padel and can't risk injury or excessive physical wear and tear in tournaments where there isn't much money at stake because their future is the WPT prizes.
Then come sponsorships that can reach 200,000 euros a year in the case of the big players and private lessons or the management of facilities for the rest where they can also find another source of income.