AMSTERDAM • Barcelona midfielder Rafinha must honour his contract with Adidas and continue to wear its sportswear or pay a fine of up to €1 million (S$1.5 million), a Dutch court said on Tuesday.
The German company had sued him after the Brazilian started to wear Mizuno shoes in July, contesting Adidas' unilateral extension of a sponsorship deal that had finished at the end of June.
Rafinha has been paid by Adidas to wear its boots and clothing since 2011, but his lawyer said in court earlier this month that he wanted to break free from his contract as it had not offered him enough support when he suffered serious injuries in 2015 and also last year.
The 25-year-old's legal team also said Adidas had hidden the extension clause in the deal and should have made it clear to the player it could add another five years to the deal. The midfielder was represented at the hearing by his father, former Brazil midfielder Mazinho, who won the World Cup in 1994.
But the district court in Amsterdam, where the original deal was signed, dismissed Rafinha's protestations, with a judge saying: "Although he is no legal expert, he knows how sponsor deals work."
The player was ordered to pay a fine of €10,000 for each day he continued to refuse to honour his contract, up to a maximum of €1 million.
The ruling was another blow for Rafinha, who is out of action for the rest of the season after tearing his cruciate knee ligament during the Spanish champions' 1-1 LaLiga draw at Atletico Madrid on Nov 24.
His subsequent operation, however, has not absolved him of his sponsorship duties, with the player also required to continue promoting Adidas off the pitch and through his social media accounts.