The football superstar and the brand ambassador of the United States based sportswear giant Nike Neymar allegedly “refused to co-operate in a good faith investigation” into an allegation of sexual assault against an employee and this the company has stopped working with Brazilian footballer, the company said.
The alleged incident happened in 2016 and was reported to Nike in 2018. The internal investigation was inconclusive, Nike said.
Neymar has denied the allegation and had parted ways with Nike last year itself because of commercial reasons, said a spokeswoman for Neymar.
“Neymar Jr will vigorously defend himself against these baseless attacks in case any claim is presented, which did not happen so far,” she told the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) newspaper, which first reported the news.
One of the most high-profile sponsorship deals for Nike was ended in August 2020 as it parted ways with Neymar bit no explanation over cause of the split was provided by the sportswear company.
“It would be inappropriate for Nike to make an accusatory statement without being able to provide supporting facts,” Nike said in its statement on Thursday.
But it added: “Nike ended its relationship with the athlete because he refused to co-operate in a good faith investigation of credible allegations of wrongdoing by an employee.”
Even though the employee had first reported of the incident to the company in 2018, the employee had initially did not want it to be investigated and chose to keep it confidential, Nike said. But in 2019, an independent investigation into the matter was commissioned by the company after the employee gave a not to pursue the case, the company said.
“We continue to respect the confidentiality of the employee and also recognise that this has been a long and difficult experience for herm” Nike said and did not name the alleged victim.
Neymar currently plays for French side Paris Saint-Germain.
He previously denied accusations of rape in 2019, in a case that was eventually dropped.
(Adapted from BBC.com)