With eight years still left on his contract, Brazilian footballer Neymar has been dropped by global sports brand Nike. This happened “quietly” last summer.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal last week, Nike revealed in a statement that Neymar was dropped because of an internal investigation into a sexual assault allegation against him.
This allegations were made by a female Nike staff who admitted to her friends that the footballer attempted to force her to have oral sex with him in his hotel room in 2016. She was with Neymar and his entourage in New York at the time, coordinating an event for him.
According to Wall Street Journal, she filed an official complaint in 2018, describing the incident to the head of human resources and to general counsel. As Nike launched an investigation into the matter in 2019, they stopped using Neymar in their marketing.
The investigation however didn’t make headway because Neymar refused to cooperate. He was dropped mainly because of this. In the words of Hilary Krane, Nike’s general counsel who spoke to WSJ, “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.”
Explaining why Nike did not make an official announcement of the contract termination, she said: “It would be inappropriate for Nike to make an accusatory statement without being able to provide supporting facts.”
Neymar’s publicity team has denied Nike’s claims. According to his spokesperson, the athlete was dropped for commercial reasons.
Regarding the allegations, the spokesperson said: “Neymar will defend himself vigorously against these baseless attacks in case any claim is presented, which did not happen so far.”
The star is currently signed to Puma though, and will look to avoid further controversy moving forward.