Nike confirmed on Friday that it had broken with Brazilian soccer player Neymar for not cooperating in the investigation of the complaint by an employee who claimed was sexually assaulted by the player.
The Wall Street Journal disclosed that the rupture of the sponsorship contract with the sports equipment manufacturer in August last year was due to that reason.
“Nike terminated its relationship with the athlete because he refused to cooperate in a good-faith investigation into credible allegations of misconduct brought by a female employee,” a company statement said.
When the company announced its break with the Paris Saint-Germain attacker, it did not disclose the reasons for that decision.
According to the complaint, the events occurred in 2016, when the soccer player was in New York and the employee came to his hotel room to coordinate events and logistics. Neymar tried to force her to perform oral sex on him, the newspaper reports.
The employee filed a complaint in 2018 within a forum created by Nike to allow Nike workers to “share experiences and concerns,” Nike added in its statement.
The company added that while it was willing to investigate the alleged incident, the complainant initially preferred that there not be an inquiry, although in 2019 she changed her mind and expressed a desire to move forward with the inquiry.
As the WSJ recounts, Nike in 2019 retained the services of a law firm to investigate the complaint and decided to stop featuring Neymar at commercial events for the duration of that process. However, Neymar refused to cooperate with investigators.
“The investigation was inconclusive,” Nike said, as no facts or decisive evidence were found and it cannot issue accusations “without offering facts to support them.”
A spokeswoman for Neymar flatly denied such accusations to the newspaper and assured that the rupture of the contract with Nike was due to commercial reasons.
The two parties had a long-standing contractual relationship, which began when the Brazilian was 13 years old and already a promising youngster in Santos’ youth ranks.
The 29-year-old footballer was already accused in 2019 of rape by a Brazilian model, who claimed to have been sexually assaulted in a Paris hotel.
The PSG striker assured then that it was a consensual relationship. In the end, the Brazilian authorities, the country where the case was filed, shelved the complaint.
For now, the footballer has not disclosed any reaction to this information on his social networks or his website.