The International Tennis Federation’s sustained campaign to radically reform the century old Davis Cup competition was ratified on Thursday after months of debate and divisions over the proposal on the floor of the world governing body’s AGM with a 71.4 per cent approval.
This was enough to get it past the two-thirds majority needed to initiate a licensing contract with the Kosmos Group in a $125 million dollar a year deal for the next 25 years.
The fourth and final day of the AGM at the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando, Florida, began with the founder of Kosmos, the European Investment Group led by Barcelona Spanish football star Gerard Pique, making a strong pitch for the proposal, shedding light on his passion and dedication, and the investment he and his company promised if the reforms got the green light from the member nations.
Tennis Cambodia’s representative at the AGM, Davis Cup player and head of Junior Development, Phalkun Mam, said Pique’s powerful presentation coupled with the ITF’s promise for a better future for the game eventually saw the motion through despite strong voices of dissent from as powerful entities as the tennis federations of Australia, Britain and Germany, along with some major concerns raised by the Asian Tennis Federation.
“Some top players expressed differing opinions from their own federations and there were wide differences among member nations. But overall almost everyone agreed that the Davis Cup had to evolve and the landmark vote has now made that overhaul possible though the Davis Cup as we know for more than a century will be a thing of the past after these major changes take effect next year,” Phalkun said.
‘Gift for smaller countries’
Reacting to the ratification of the massive $3 billion package stretching well past 2040, Tennis Cambodia secretary-general Tep Rithivit, who also heads the ATF’s Junior and Ranking Panel, welcomed the format change across the board at all zonal levels as a monumental achievement by ITF.
“It is indeed a gift for smaller countries. Now we have $25 million more than we had before under this deal. It is a great boost for the grassroots.
“It opens up opportunities to develop more players since we are promised 10 times more money than we get now for our initiatives. For us it was an easy decision to make and the right one to support this historic revamp,” Rithivit said.
The proposal, spearheaded by ITF president David Haggerty of the United States, who is up for re-election next year, was backed by Pique and the founder of tech giant Oracle, Larry Ellison, who has invested heavily in tennis as the owner of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and who has also pledged financial support.