Chinese-Japanese firm Dongfeng Nissan paid more than 100 million yuan ($16 million) for the season-long rights to Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao’s apparel, according to China’s official news agency Xinhua.
The official red shirts are emblazoned with the firm’s name in Chinese, along with a car model number.
But when the team took the field for the second leg of the AFC Champions League final — when they defeated Al Ahli of the UAE 1-0 — the tops were instead labelled with the Chinese name of Evergrande Life, an insurance subsidiary of one of the club’s co-owners.
Dongfeng Nissan, a joint venture between China’s Dongfeng Motors and Nissan of Japan, which is an alliance with French firm Renault, issued a furious denunciation.
The club “took the liberty of unilaterally changing and replacing the chest advertisement without our company’s consent”, it said.
The firm had already rejected informal suggestions for the change, and only received a written request “one minute ahead of the game”, it added.
The decision breached the sponsorship agreement and damaged its rights, it said, adding it had begun legal action for breach of contract.
There was no statement on Evergrande’s website regarding the accusations, and a club spokesman was not available to comment when contacted by AFP. – Agence France-Presse