Nike split with Neymar over sex assault inquiry

Paris, May 28 (EFE).- Sports apparel giant Nike confirmed Friday that it ended its relationship with Brazilian soccer player Neymar last year after he refused to cooperate in an investigation into an alleged sexual assault lodged by an employee of the firm.

“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 in August, it did not disclose the reasons for that decision.

According to the complaint, the alleged assault 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 Wall Street Journal newspaper reported.

The employee filed a complaint in 2018 within a forum created by Nike to allow female workers at the firm 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 investigation.

According to the WSJ, 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. But 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 roundly denied the accusations to the newspaper and said that the breach 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.

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