Nike Dropped Neymar For Refusing To Cooperate In Sexual Assault Investigation

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PSG are hoping Neymar will be back alongside Kylian Mbappe when they take on Lille
PSG are hoping Neymar will be back alongside Kylian Mbappe when they take on Lille AFP / FRANCK FIFE

Nike has dropped its partnership with Brazilian professional footballer Neymar da Silva Santos Jr. for refusing to cooperate with authorities investigating sexual assault allegations against him. 

Neymar had previously been the ambassador of the brand in South America and was among one of the company’s highest-paid athletes. 

Neymar and the company parted ways last year despite having eight years left in the soccer superstar’s marketing contract. Nike had refused to give a reason for the sudden move at the time. 

However, in a statement released late Thursday, Nike said it ended its business relationship with the athlete after he refused to cooperate “in a good faith investigation” launched by lawyers at Cooley LLP, a firm hired by the company. 

“Nike ended its relationship with the athlete because he refused to cooperate in a good faith investigation of credible allegations of wrongdoing by an employee,” the company said.

The sexual assault allegations came after a Nike employee told friends and colleagues that Neymar, in an alleged intoxicated state, tried to force her to perform oral sex on him in his hotel room in New York City in 2016. 

The employee said she was in the room when Neymar came back to the hotel. The woman said that she and several Nike employees were assigned to help coordinate events and logistics for the soccer player’s team.

The employee, who still works with Nike, alleged that Neymar tried to block the door to prevent her from leaving the hotel room, and chased her down the hotel hallway while undressed.

A spokeswoman for Neymar told The Wall Street Journal that he denies the allegations.

The employee reported the incident to the company’s head of human resources and general counsel in 2018 and initially requested that it be kept confidential, according to Nike.

The company then hired Cooley LLC in 2019 to conduct a private investigation after the employee expressed interest in launching a probe, according to statements from people and documents obtained by The Wall Street Journal.

Nike said the investigation was “inconclusive” and noted that it had yet to be completed when the brand ended its business relationship with Neymar. 

Hilary Krane, the company’s general counsel, said in a statement that Nike did not disclose the matter publicly after it found “no single set of facts emerged that would enable us to speak substantively on the matter.”

“It would be inappropriate for Nike to make an accusatory statement without being able to provide supporting facts,” the statement added.


Can Neymar and Paris Saint-Germain go on to win a first Champions League title after knocking out the holders Bayern Munich?
Can Neymar and Paris Saint-Germain go on to win a first Champions League title after knocking out the holders Bayern Munich?
Photo: AFP / FRANCK FIFE

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