Basketball star from Xinjiang penalized after endorsement of Adidas sparked outrage
Published: Oct 11, 2021 09:37 PM
Hu Mingxuan's weibo

Hu Mingxuan's weibo

Hu Mingxuan, a Chinese professional basketball player from Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, has been reportedly penalized by his team after his endorsement of Adidas drew widespread criticism, as the brand was involved in groundless slander and attacks against Xinjiang cotton.

Hu, who plays for the Guangdong Southern Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), reportedly lost 20 percent of his champion bonus as a penalty, according to several media reports. 

Hu was born in 1998 in Urumqi, regional capital of Xinjiang. On September 27, the official account of Adidas Basketball announced on social media platform Weibo that Hu had become the brand's spokesperson. 

Hu reposted the announcement at the time and said that he "is happy to join the Adidas big family and looks forward to creating more possibilities."

But the move sparked a tsunami of anger among Chinese netizens. Some criticized him as "kneeling down" to the brand, and said they can never understand Hu's choice, especially considering "a Xinjiang-born player endorsing a brand that badmouths Xinjiang cotton."

"A number of Chinese celebrities and movie stars have cut ties with foreign brands that slander Xinjiang cotton. The incident was just half a year ago, do you understand what your move means now?" another netizen asked.

Some angry Chinese netizens also demanded on social media platforms that his team respond to public opinion and penalize Hu. 

The Guangdong Southern Tigers has not responded to an interview request by the Global Times. Hu's Weibo account stopped updating as of September 27.

According to local media reports, following Hu's controversy, the team also set a new rule that any player being signed as a spokesperson for foreign brands should report that to the club and seek approval from the club. Otherwise, players would lose 50 percent of their salary and face a suspension for 15 games. 

In May, the Guangdong Southern Tigers beat the Liaoning Flying Leopard to win the historic 11th CBA championship at the 2020-2021 season of the CBA league. Hu was named the finals MVP.

The CBA preseason match-up started on Monday. The Guangdong Men's basketball team was defeated by Shanxi 62-83. Hu did not play in the game. 

Adidas is facing a tough time in the Chinese market. In the second quarter of 2021, sales of Adidas in the Chinese market - its third-largest market - slumped about 16 percent, the only region where the company reported a sales contraction. 

Global Times