Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar and Nike split ways last year as the company investigated an allegation that the Brazilian player sexually assaulted one of its employees, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.
The Journal, citing people familiar with what happened and documents it reviewed, reported that the female employee told friends and colleagues that Neymar tried to force her to have oral sex with him in his hotel room while in New York City for a Nike event in 2016. The employee filed a complaint in 2018, and Nike hired an outside law firm to investigate the matter in 2019, ultimately deciding to stop featuring him in its marketing amid the investigation.
The 15-year relationship between Neymar and Nike officially ended in 2020, with him later signing a deal with Puma. Nike did not give a reason for the split at the time. The Journal reported that he still had eight years remaining on his marketing contract with Nike when they separated.
However, in a statement to the Journal, Nike said the split was due to Neymar not cooperating with the investigation following the alleged assault.
“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,” Hilary Krane, Nike’s general counsel, told the Journal.
A spokesman for Neymar denied that the allegation was the cause for the split.
“Neymar Jr. will vigorously defend himself against these baseless attacks in case any claim is presented, which did not happen so far,” the spokesman told the Journal, adding that the split was due to commercial reasons.
An attorney for the Nike employee didn’t respond to the Journal’s requests for comment.
Neymar faced an allegation of rape in 2019, but that was dismissed in August of that year on lack of evidence. The accuser was later indicted for procedural fraud, slanderous denunciation and extortion.