Sportswear giant Nike has cut ties with PSG footballer Neymar after allegations he refused to co-operate in a sexual assault probe involving one of its employees.
The Brazilian forward has denied the allegations, with his spokeswoman saying in a statement: “Neymar Jr. will vigorously defend himself against these baseless attacks in case any claim is presented, which did not happen so far.”
Nike has claimed the alleged incident happened in 2016 and was reported to the company in 2018.
It added that the employee made the allegations in a forum before later launching an independent investigation.
In reports that have emerged in the Wall Street Journal, Neymar is alleged to have attempted to force the employee to perform MouthAction in his hotel room during a promotional event after removing his underwear, before attempting to block her from leaving the room before chasing her down the hallway.
Nike says the investigation proved “inconclusive”, and the company alleges that the ex-Barcelona star refused to co-operate.
A statement from Nike read: “Nike was deeply disturbed by sexual assault allegations made by one of our own employees against Neymar Jr.
“The alleged incident occurred in 2016 and was officially reported to Nike in 2018. The employee came forward to share her experience in a forum created by Nike leadership to afford a safe environment in which current and former employees could confidentially share their experiences and concerns.
“From the very beginning, we have treated the employee’s allegations and her experience with great seriousness.
“When the employee first relayed her allegations to Nike’s leadership in 2018, she did so only with assurances of confidentiality.
“While Nike was prepared and ready to investigate at that time, Nike respected the employee’s initial desire to keep this matter confidential and avoid an investigation.
“As her employer, we had a responsibility to respect her privacy and did not believe it was appropriate to share that information with law enforcement or any third party without the employee’s consent.
“In 2019, when the employee later expressed interest in pursuing the matter, we acted immediately. Nike commissioned an independent investigation and retained separate independent legal counsel for the employee, of her choosing and at the company’s expense.
“The investigation was inconclusive. No single set of facts emerged that would enable us to speak substantively on the matter.
“It would be inappropriate for Nike to make an accusatory statement without being able to provide supporting facts.
“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.
“We continue to respect the confidentiality of the employee and also recognise that this has been a long and difficult experience for her.”
According to reports, Neymar had a deal with Nike that would run until 2022, before this partnership ended in September last year.
He then signed for Puma, and no reason was given at the time by Nike.
Neymar had been signed by Nike aged 13.
Daily Star Sport has approached Neymar, Nike and Puma for a response.