Reasons for divorce: Nike says it broke off its partnership with Neymar because he refused to cooperate with an investigation, after an employee accused him of sexually assaulting her. Allegations sharply rejected by the father of the star, whose image is still chipped.
“Nike ended its partnership with the athlete because he refused to cooperate in a good faith investigation into credible allegations of wrongdoing made by an employee”, Nike said in a statement sent to AFP on the night of Friday, May 28, confirming information from the “Wall Street Journal” (WSJ).
“The investigation was inconclusive”, nevertheless made a point of clarifying the company based in Beaverton in Oregon, adding: “No body of facts has emerged that would allow us to rule on the merits of the case. It would be inappropriate for Nike to make an accusatory statement without being able to provide supporting facts. “
Separation “for commercial reasons”
Joined by the WSJ, the spokesperson for the player assured in a statement that “Neymar Jr will vigorously defend himself against these baseless attacks in case any allegation is presented, which has not happened so far”.
And she claimed the two sides had separated for business reasons, despite having been in talks since 2019. “It is very strange that a case that supposedly happened in 2016, with allegations made by a Nike employee, was not revealed until then”, she argued.
The supporter struck by Neymar explains: “It was not an insult, it was a way of sleeping”
When Nike prematurely terminated its sponsorship contract binding him to the Brazilian at the end of August 2020, after thirteen years of collaboration, no reason had been given.
In its press release sent to AFP, the comma mark explains having “Was deeply disturbed by the allegations of sexual assault made in 2018 by one of its employees against Neymar Jr”, without specifying their nature.
Ronaldo and Bryant also accused
Based on testimonies and documents, the “Wall Street Journal” reports that this employee told friends and colleagues that Neymar tried to force her to perform oral sex in 2016, while she was lying in her hotel room in New York, where she worked on the coordination and logistics of a promotional event.
“How can such news come out? “, protested Neymar Sr, the player’s father, to the daily “Folha de São Paulo”, assuring that his son “Don’t even know this girl”.
“It comes from Nike. It’s very strange, they all leave Nike and are accused of stuff like that. It happened to Cristiano Ronaldo, to the basketball guy who died, Kobe [Bryant], they have been denigrated, as Neymar is wrongly accused now. If Nike wants to blackmail, let’s tackle Nike, then ”, he said.
The American equipment manufacturer said in its statement that it was ready to investigate in 2018 when its employee made these allegations, but that he “Respected its initial desire to keep this matter confidential and to avoid the opening of an investigation”.
Neymar accused of rape in Brazil
Nike therefore did not share information with the courts or any other third party until 2019, when the group hired lawyers to conduct an investigation, when the employee wished to continue this case.
That year, Neymar was accused of rape by another woman in Brazil. Which he vehemently rejected and the case was ultimately dropped. At the time, Nike had expressed its “Deep concern”, before assuring the player of his support once the case has been closed by the Brazilian police for lack of proof.
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Ranked last year by “Forbes” magazine as the seventh highest paid celebrities in the world ($ 95.5 million, including sponsorship contracts), Neymar also had tax problems in Spain when he was playing for FC Barcelona (2013-2017).
All of this and his assumed sense of celebration have consistently damaged the image of the 29-year-old forward. This did not prevent him, almost immediately after the termination of his contract with Nike, from engaging with Puma to become the new head of the gondola.