French soccer star Antoine Griezmann announced that he is ending his partnership with Chinese telecom company Huawei after reports highlighted that the firm worked with authorities to surveil the Uighur minority using facial recognition technology.
“Following strong suspicions of which Huawei has contributed to the development of a ‘Uighur alert’ using facial recognition software, I am announcing that I am ending my partnership to this company,” the FC Barcelona footballer said in a statement on his Instagram page.
“I also take this opportunity to call Huawei to stop merely denying these accusations, but to take concrete actions as soon as possible to condemn this mass repression and use its influence to contribute to the respect of human rights and women’s rights within society,” he added.
On Tuesday, an investigation by the Washington Post and IPVM, a video surveillance authority, found a confidential document hidden on Huawei’s European website with test results for “basic functions,” one of which was called “Uighur alert.”
Huawei denied the report’s allegations, saying it “is simply a test and it has not seen real-world application,” and that “Huawei operates in compliance with the laws and regulations of all countries and regions where we operate.” The use of this software is legal inside of China, according to IPVM.
Griezmann’s stance follows in the steps of German footballer Mesut Özil, who also condemned China’s treatment of Uighur minorities in an Instagram statement in December 2019, which got him deleted from Chinese computer games.
Griezmann himself was the subject of controversy in 2017 after he posted a picture of himself in blackface. After having initially told critics to “calm down,” Griezmann deleted the post and apologized.