Competition between two sports goods giants, Nike and Adidas, has moved to a different arena – a Shanghai court. Nike is suing its German competitor, and Chinese football star Zheng Zhi.
At a hearing held Tuesday, Nike Sports (China) Co Ltd told Shanghai No 1 Intermediate People's Court that Adidas and Zheng --captain of the Chinese football team and a midfield player with England's Charlton Athletic -- had harmed its interests, English-language China Daily reported Wednesday.
Nike said Zheng was seduced by Adidas who promised more money and wore Adidas products and attended its publicity events while working as a brand ambassador for Nike.
It is seeking eight million yuan (1.14 million U.S. dollars) in compensation from the two.
But the accused parties said Nike broke its contract with Zheng due to nonpayment.
"Nike had withdrawn a similar suit accusing Adidas of unfair competition for lack of evidence," Jiang Xian, the attorney of the28-year-old football player, was quoted as saying.
On July 1, 2003, Nike signed a contract with Zheng in a bid to build its image in China. The contract, which was to expire at the end of last year, said Zheng should wear Nike products on any public occasion and attend publicity events of Nike.
The contract promised Zheng 110,000 yuan by October 2003 and another 760,000 in 2004, to be paid in installments.
Nike said Zheng had adhered to the contract at the beginning.
However, in August 2004, Zheng requested a raise, but Nike refused, Nike attorney Yang Jun said. In April, 2005, Zheng wore Adidas football boots at matches in Japan. Soon after he informed Nike he wanted to cancel his contract.
"To get publicity at the World Cup in 2006, Adidas in 2004 decided to recruit famous players who worked for other brands," Yang said.
The hearing lasted two hours. Verdict will be given later, according to the report.