Nike has confirmed it has terminated its sponsorship deal with Neymar after he refused to cooperate in an investigation into allegations that he sexually assaulted a company employee years ago.
The football superstar denied the accusation and criticized the company on Instagram while training with Brazil outside Rio de Janeiro.
Neymar called Nike’s allegations an “absurd lie.”
Nike gave no reason last August when it broke up with Paris Saint-Germain striker. But in a statement Thursday, the company said it had terminated the contract because Neymar had refused to take part in “a bona fide investigation into credible allegations of wrongdoing by an employee”.
Nike said it could not elaborate on the case when their deal was closed because the investigation was not final.
“No set of facts has emerged to allow us to speak on the merits,” Nike said. “It would be inappropriate for Nike to make an indictment without being able to provide supporting facts.”
The Wall Street Journal first reported the story on Thursday. The newspaper reported that a Nike employee told friends as well as colleagues in 2016 that Neymar had tried to force her to have oral sex in his hotel room while she was in New York, where she helped coordinate. events and logistics for the player and his environment.
A comment request message was left in the NYPD. When searching the online database of the police department, no complaints were submitted that correspond to the data in this account, which suggests that no report was submitted. The Manhattan prosecutor’s office declined to comment.
Nike said it was “deeply concerned by allegations of sexual violence” and confirmed that the alleged incident occurred in 2016 when Neymar was playing with Barcelona. Nike said it received official notification of the incident two years later.
The company said it respected the employee’s initial desire to avoid an investigation and keep the matter private.
“In 2019, when the employee later expressed an interest in continuing to look into the matter, we acted immediately,” Nike said. . “
Neymar wrote a long post on Instagram on Friday, talking about the end of the partnership with Nike and the allegation of sexual violence, without going into details.
“I really don’t understand how a serious company can break a business relationship backed up with documents. Written words cannot be changed. They are very clear, “Neymar wrote.
“Once again, I have been warned that I cannot comment publicly. Against my own will, I will obey. ”
The footballer also said that he had traveled and worked with Nike employees several times after the alleged incident and nothing had changed in the relationship.
“I was not given the opportunity to defend myself. I was not given the opportunity to find out who this alleged man was. I don’t even know her, “he wrote. “I have never had any connection or approach with this person. I didn’t even have a chance to talk to her to find out the real reasons for her pain. This man, an employee, was not protected. I, a sponsored athlete, was not protected. “
The Brazilian also regrets having to wear a Nike-sponsored shirt at his club Paris Saint-Germain.
“Ironically. I will continue to stamp my chest, which betrayed me. This is life for you! “he wrote. ‘I remain firm and strong, believing that time, always this cruel time, will bring the right answers.’
Neymar is expected to play two World Cup qualifiers in early June. He is widely believed to be on the Brazilian team, which will be named for the Copa America next month.