Last summer, Nike cut ties with Neymar Jr., ending his lucrative endorsement deal despite the soccer superstar having a full eight years left on his contract.
On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal revealed the answer to why. In a shocking report, the business outlet claims Neymar was let go due to an internal investigation into a sexual assault accusation.
A female Nike employee claimed in 2016 to friends and colleagues that while she was coordinating events for Neymar and his entourage in New York City, the Brazilian footballer tried to force her to perform oral sex on him in his hotel room.
She filed an official complaint in 2018, describing the incident to the head of human resources and to general counsel, per WSJ‘s sources. In 2019, the company decided to stop featuring Neymar in any of their marketing as an internal investigation was launched.
That investigation was inconclusive, but that may be due to the fact Neymar refused to participate. It was for that reason that he was dropped — before the probe had even officially ended. Nike’s general counsel, Hilary Krane, confirmed this to the outlet, saying:
“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.”
OK, but that was all the way last August. Why didn’t Nike go public with any of this then, rather than just quietly cut ties with no reason given? Ms. Krane explained that “no single set of facts emerged that would enable us to speak substantively on the matter” making it impossible to take any further steps. She said:
“It would be inappropriate for Nike to make an accusatory statement without being able to provide supporting facts.”
This is not the first time Neymar has been accused of sexual assault. In June 2019, a woman said he raped her in a Paris hotel.
In that case, Neymar went public with a video defending himself, providing receipts, including Whatsapp messages between himself and his accuser, showing the sex was consensual. Brazilian police agreed, ultimately charging the woman and her ex-husband with fraud, extortion, and slander.
But this time was different.
According to the Journal‘s reporting, Neymar’s reps denied any wrongdoing on his behalf — but the star himself refused all Nike’s investigators who wanted to interview him. And that was the dealbreaker.
Neymar’s spokeswoman denies the investigation was the reason for the split, saying it was due to “commercial reasons.” As to the allegation, she said:
“Neymar Jr. will vigorously defend himself against these baseless attacks in case any claim is presented, which did not happen so far.”
Neymar had been signed with Nike for nearly 16 years, since he was only 13 years old. He was the face of the brand in South America. Now he’s signed with Puma. We’ll just have to see how his new brand responds to these allegations going public…
Source: Read Full Article