The Swedish fashion retailer H&M has been in far-reaching negotiations with the Spanish football club FC Barcelona, affectionately known as Barça to become the main sponsor for the first-team’s walking clothes but Barca has now temporarily suspended all negotiations for sponsorship, Expressen writes.
Officially FC Barcelona claims that a clothing sponsor is not a priority at the moment but the newspaper ARA reports that the real reason is that the club fears that H&M’s statement about forced labor among ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region’s cotton industry could create a conflict with China. The Catalan newspaper writes that the “club fears punishment from China for the cooperation”.
H&M was in spring this year hit by an extensive boycott in China. The campaign was launched at the request of the Communist Party’s youth union and was a reaction to a statement on H&M’s website. The statement, which had a year on its neck, expressed concern about reports of forced labor among ethnic minorities in Xinjiang’s cotton industry. H&M states in the statement that it intends to terminate the cooperation with subcontractors whose forced labor can be verified.
According to H&M, it is a rumor however that negotiations with Barca has been halted due to the club’s fears of a Chinese backlash and the Swedish clothing giant does not want to comment on the information, Expressen writes. Håcan Andersson, press contact at H&M says, “That is a rumor that goes around and we are of course aware that it exists, but our policy is that we do not comment on rumors.”