Nike broke its relationship with Neymar last year because the Brazilian star refused to cooperate with an investigation about a complaint from an employee, who accused the soccer player of sexual assaultsaid the US giant on Thursday in a statement sent to AFP. "Nike terminated its relationship with the athlete because he refused to cooperate in a good faith investigation into credible allegations of improper acts by an employee, "the company stated, confirming the information advanced by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ ).
The investigation into the incident, which allegedly occurred in 2016, "it was not conclusive", stressed the multinational sporting goods. "No set of facts emerged that would allow us to pronounce substantively on the matter. It would be inappropriate for Nike to make an accusatory statement without being able to provide supporting facts," he said.
In the WSJ article, a spokeswoman for the Paris Saint-Germain player said 'Ney' strongly denies the accusation. "Neymar Jr. will vigorously defend itself against these unfounded attacks in the event of a lawsuit, which has not occurred until now, "the spokeswoman said in a statement, adding that Nike and the footballer parted ways for commercial reasons.
The premature severance of this sponsorship relationship, which began more than a decade ago, occurred in August 2020 without any of the parties disclosing the reasons.
Neymar rejects the accusations
In the statement sent to AFP, Nike explained that it was "deeply concerned by the accusations of sexual assault made in 2018 by one of his employees against Neymar Jr ", without making further details.
Based on eyewitness accounts and documents, the WSJ reported that the employee told her friends, as well as colleagues, that Neymar tried to force her to practice oral sex in 2016 while he was in his hotel room in New York, where he was working on the coordination and logistics of a promotional event.
In its statement, Nike said it was ready to investigate the incident in 2018, when the worker disclosed it internally, but "respected the employee's initial wish to keep this matter confidential and avoid an investigation." Nike said that, in response to this request, it did not make any complaint to the courts or any other third party until 2019, when the employee did express her desire to have her complaint investigated. "We continue to respect the employee's confidentiality and also recognize that this has been a long and difficult experience for her," Nike said.
Citing unidentified people and documents, the WSJ reported that Nike hired lawyers from the firm Cooley LLP to begin the investigation in 2019 and, as it progressed, decided to dispense with the Brazilian star's involvement in marketing activities.
Neymar's spokeswoman told the WSJ that the two sides had been in talks since 2019. "It is very strange that a case that was supposed to have occurred in 2016, with allegations from a Nike employee, came to light only at that time. "he told the newspaper.
In 2019, Neymar was also accused of rape by another woman in Brazil. The accusation, which he vehemently denied and was eventually withdrawn, left his image shaken.
The 29-year-old attacker announced a new sponsorship deal with Puma just weeks after the breakup with Nike. Nike had sponsored the forward since he was a 13-year-old prodigy. Earlier this month, amid rumors about his sporting future, the forward signed a extension of his contract with Paris Saint-Germain until the end of the 2024-2025 season.