KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: The sportswear giant Nike cancelled its contract with Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian superstar Neymar LAST August because he refused to cooperate in an investigation into an employee’s allegations that he sexually assaulting her.

The allegations has have denied by Neymar but a Nike statement to the AFP agency said: “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.

“The investigation was not conclusive. No body of facts has emerged which would allow us to pronounce on the merits of the case. It would be inappropriate for Nike to make an accusatory statement without being able to provide supporting facts.”

When Nike prematurely terminated its sponsorship contract at the end of August 2020, after 13 years, no reason had been given.

In the statement Nike continued that it had been “deeply disturbed by the allegations of sexual assault made in 2018 by one of its employees against Neymar Jr.”

The Wall Street Journal had reported that the employee told friends and colleagues that Neymar tried to force her to perform oral sex in 2016, while she was in hotel room in New York City, where she worked on the coordination and logistics of a promotional event..

A spokesman for the player said: “Neymar Jr will vigorously defend himself against these baseless attacks in case any allegation is presented, which has not happened so far.” 

She claimed that the two had separated for commercial reasons, despite having been in talks since 2019, adding: “It is very strange that a case supposed to have happened in 2016, with allegations made by a Nike employee, was only revealed at that time.

Nike had been ready to investigate in 2018 when his employee made these allegations, but that he “respected his initial desire to keep this matter confidential and to avoid the opening of an investigation “.

The company 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 pursue this case.

That year, Neymar was accused of rape by another woman in Brazil., an allegation he vehemently rejected and the case was ultimately dropped. 

At the time, Nike had expressed its “deep concern”, before assuring the player of its support once the case was closed by the Brazilian police for lack of evidence.

Neymar, now sponsored by Puma, was ranked last year by Forbes magazine as the seventh highest-paid celebrity in the world at $ 95.5m including sponsorship contracts.

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