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FC Barcelona had very advanced negotiations with H&M for the textile company to be the new sponsor of the walking clothes of the players of the first men’s soccer team, but the commitment of the Swedish brand not to use cotton from Xinjiang because of the use of forced labor is the main reason that has stopped the talks, as the club does not want conflicts with China.
This was reported by Diario ARA and confirmed by EFE from club sources, who explained that the main fears were born from a sector of the communication department and the Hong Kong office. They claim that the azulgrana entity was transparent with H&M about the main reason why, for the moment, they wanted to stop the agreement.
The official version of FC Barcelona is that there is no negotiation about to be closed with a brand to be in charge of the club’s walking clothes and that at this moment the asset is not a priority either because there are other much more urgent matters. This sponsorship could have been worth around €3 million per year.
H&M’s statement was published in 2020 and denounced that different civil organizations had reported the existence of labor camps in the Xinjiang region, located in northeastern China, where citizens of the Uyghur Muslim minority were allegedly exploited.
Since then, there have been reprisals from China against H&M for this decision, and currently, the Swedish brand does not appear on some of the most popular online sales websites in the Asian country and its more than 500 stores there do not exist in the main geolocators.
Barça’s fears are underpinned by the fact that it must renew a sponsorship deal with a Chinese company, electronics manufacturer Oppo, which would bring in roughly twice as much money as H&M would and has another sponsor, Chinese government-owned Taiping Life Insurance.
In 2018, FC Barcelona closed a sponsorship deal with U.S. company Thom Browne to be in charge of streetwear for the players and coaching staff of the men’s first team. The contract was signed for three years and ends this summer.