Lionel Messi is one of the investors in the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid later this year, according to his Barcelona team-mate Gerard Pique.
Pique’s investment firm Kosmos has been instrumental in a revamp for the historic tennis competition and has backed the new format of the Davis Cup to the tune of $3bn over 25 years. It will jointly run the competition alongside the International Tennis Federation (ITF).
The inaugural 18-nation finals, which has replaced the 16-nation World Group played throughout the year, will take place at Madrid’s La Caja Magica on November 18-24
Speaking before Thursday’s draw ceremony, Pique confirmed Argentina forward and fellow tennis fan Messi, who already has a stake in Kosmos, was involved.
“Leo knows more than anyone about this because he is involved in Kosmos,” Pique was quoted as saying. “He is a partner, he is part of the Kosmos family, he likes tennis. We have a relationship of 18 years since he arrived at the club and I always try to share with him things I’m thinking, he loves to be part of it and he wanted to be part of it.”
Pique’s involvement in the ITF’s 119-year-old team competition has drawn scorn in some quarters, with Australia captain Lleyton Hewitt questioning his credentials.
“We’re getting run by a Spanish football player. That’s like me coming out and making changes to the Champions League,” Hewitt said in January. “It’s ridiculous. He knows nothing about tennis.”
Swiss great Roger Federer even suggested the competition was in danger of becoming the “Pique Cup”.
I can understand that when a footballer comes in the tennis world it can seem a little bit awkward or strange, but at the end of the day I’m not going to be changing the rules of tennis.
“I hate it, because it’s not about me and I don’t want my name on the competition,” Pique said. “Davis Cup history is so big. I hope we can change this opinion. After a few years, I hope they go back and say ‘We were wrong, Davis Cup is more alive than ever’.
“I respect the opinion of Lleyton, he was a great player. I can understand that when a footballer comes in the tennis world it can seem a little bit awkward or strange, but at the end of the day I’m not going to be changing the rules of tennis.”
The Davis Cup Finals, which will offer a large prize money pot, will be staged in Madrid for two years before potentially moving to the California resort of Indian Wells owned by another Kosmos stakeholder Larry Ellison.