THE number of padel tennis players in Spain has more than doubled in the last ten years with thousands of courts springing up in apartment buildings and sports clubs.
But now, authorities are investigating whether the sport could pose a threat to local birdlife, with many harmed or even killed by flying into the glass-walled courts.
Padel, played in doubles, is among the fastest growing sports in the world and its courts are around a third of the size of a tennis court.
They are typically surrounded by glass walls (sometimes concrete) which players can hit balls off, making for an exciting and fast-paced game that is already enjoyed by A-list celebs – including David Beckham, Jurgen Klopp and Rafael Nadal.
However the Spanish government has now launched an investigation into the courts to see if they are in breach of the new Law for the Protection of Animals, which came into effect last month.
If they are found to ‘abuse’ local wildlife, authorities could be held responsible for managing their environmental impact.
One player told 20Minutos: “They normally hit the wall. It’s not a bird per game, but it does happen.”
In June, local authorities were asked to collect data about birds injured or killed by glass structures, especially padel courts.
It came after the Barcelona Forestry Unit published a preliminary report concluding the courts are a ‘serious threat’ to birds.
But as the study was unable to identify the scale of the problem, the issue was passed to The Environmental Prosecutor’s Office to investigate on a national level.
According to the Law for the Protection of Animals, the courts could constitute animal abuse, which is defined as ‘any behaviour that causes pain, suffering or harm to an animal.’
The nation-wide study is expected to finish by the end of the year and in January, local authorities may be expected to implement protective measures.