Nike Inc said on Thursday it ended its partnership with Brazilian football star Neymar last year because he refused to cooperate in an investigation into sexual assault allegations levelled against him by a Nike employee.
Neymar, denies the allegations . The world’s largest sportswear maker said in a statement it viewed the allegations about an incident in 2016 as “credible” but also said an independent investigation it commissioned was inconclusive .
“No single set of facts emerged that would enable us to speak substantively on the matter . It would be an inappropriate for Nike to make an accusatory Statement without being able to provide supporting facts ,” the statement said . Neymar’s spokeswoman said the athlete would vigorously defend himself if any claim is presented, describing the allegations as baseless and adding that the endorsement deal ended for commercial reasons.
“It is very strange a case that was supposed to have happened in 2016 , with allegations by a Nike employee ,come to light only at that moment , “ her statement said.
The statements follow a wall street journal report about the investigation. Nike had previously not publicly given a reason for terminating the deal. Nike said a female employee officially reported the incident to the company in 2018, coming forward in an internal forum. While Nike was prepared to investigate at the time it respected her request to keep the matter confidential and did not investigate until she expressed an interest in 2019 in legally pursuing the matter , its statement said.
Neymar had been signed with Nike for 15 years when the deal ended. The contract was terminated with eight years remaining, the journal said , citing a person familiar with the matter.