While Nike has not publicly announced why it ended its marketing deal with football star Neymar in August 2020, it did so due to a sexual assault allegation.
Khadeeja Safdar de la le journal Wall Street reported that a Nike employee said Neymar attempted to force her to have oral sex in 2016. The employee filed a complaint in 2018 and Nike hired Cooley LLP to investigate in 2019 and ultimately terminated to the relationship with Neymar in 2020.
“Nike ended his relationship with the athlete because he refused to cooperate in a good faith investigation into credible allegations of wrongdoing by an employee,” said Hilary Krane, general counsel from Nike.
Krane also said the company did not publicly discuss the decision at the time, because “no body of facts has emerged that would allow us to speak in any substantial way on the matter. It would be inappropriate for Nike to make an accusatory statement without being able to provide supporting facts. “
Safdar reported that there are still eight years left on the Brazilian soccer star’s deal.
“Neymar Jr. will vigorously defend himself against these baseless attacks in the event that a claim is made, which has not happened so far,” a spokeswoman for the 29-year-old said while suggesting that the two parties separated for commercial reasons.
The woman who made the allegations still works at Nike and said Neymar attempted to force her to perform oral sex during a marketing trip to New York City in 2016.
She said she and another Nike employee were asked to help Neymar, who appeared to be intoxicated at the time, return to his hotel room during an overnight trip. She said it was in the room that he tried to block her exit, then chased her down the hall while he was undressed.
Safdar noted that a Brazilian model accused Neymar of rape at a Paris hotel in 2019. The soccer star said it was consensual, and Brazilian authorities ultimately dropped the case.
The model was charged with slander, extortion and procedural fraud, although the first two charges were dismissed in 2019, and she was acquitted of the latter charge in 2020.
Nike employee asked about her own complaint about Neymar following the other rape allegations and executives told her they didn’t follow through immediately because they thought she didn’t want to that they take action.
“In 2019, when the employee subsequently expressed interest in pursuing the case, we acted immediately,” Krane said. “From the very beginning, we took the employee’s allegations and her experience very seriously. “
Neymar signed with Nike at the age of 13.
He finalized a sponsorship deal with Puma after Nike ended their relationship with him.