Nike Inc. and Brazilian superstar Neymar Jr. ended their 15-year long association last August, but both parties refused to confirm the exact reason for the termination. The American sportswear giant has now come forward to explain the reason behind the sudden split.
Nike explained that the company decided to end its partnership with Neymar after the Paris Saint-Germain footballer refused to cooperate in an investigation into sexual assault allegations levelled against him by a Nike employee.
"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," Nike said in a late Thursday statement.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the contract between Neymar and Nike still had eight years to run before it was abruptly terminated. It is alleged that the former Barcelona star tried to persuade the unnamed Nike employee to perform a sexual act on him while in New York City in 2016.
Neymar has denied the allegations vehemently with his spokeswoman saying that they will defend vigorously against the "baseless attacks" made against the Brazil international.
"Neymar Jr. will vigorously defend himself against these baseless attacks in case any claim is presented, which did not happen so far," she said via a statement on the Wall Street Journal.
Nike said that the employee lodged the complaint against Neymar in 2018 but at the time wanted to keep the allegations private, which saw the American sportswear giant refrain from reporting it to the concerned authorities. However, in 2019, the employee expressed her intention to pursue the matter further, which saw Nike set up an independent investigation into the alleged sexual assault.
"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 company said, as quoted on CNBC.