Last year, Nike and Neymar Jr. parted ways in what many considered a shocking move since the 29-year-old was the face for the brand in South America.
Nonetheless, a report from The Wall Street Journal sheds light on why the two parties decided to split in the summer of 2020, resulting in Neymar joining German sportswear company Puma.
According to the report, Nike decided to end its association with one of the most prominent athletes after one of its employees alleged Neymar sexually assaulted her in 2016. This accusation is separate from the one filed by a Brazilian model against Paris Saint-Germain star in 2019.
The Journal reveals details of the reported incident, which began when the unnamed alleged victim reportedly assisted in coordinating logistics with Neymar’s team for a Jordan Brand event promoting a new collaboration with the football star.
“After midnight, in the early hours of June 2, hotel staff asked the woman along with another Nike employee to help Neymar, who appeared to be intoxicated, into his room at the hotel, the woman told friends and Nike colleagues that night and in subsequent days. She told these people that when she was briefly left alone in the room with Neymar, he took off his underwear and tried to force her to perform oral sex,” the Journal wrote.
“She said Neymar tried to block her from leaving the room and then chased her down the hotel hallway while he was still undressed. The employee shared the incident with several friends, family members, and Nike employees that night and in the following days and weeks, the people said.”
The American sportswear company decided to hire a law firm to investigate the employee’s accusations in 2019, a year after the employee filed the complaint in 2018. Neymar denied the claim; however, the Brazil international refused to cooperate with the investigation.
“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, said to the Journal.
After its investigation, Nike did not resolve whether an assault had happened, which explains why they made no public statement at the time.
“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.”
Furthermore, no charges were filed against Neymar in the Najila Trindade case, and the Brazilian authorities eventually charged the Brazilian model with slander, extortion, and fraud. Nonetheless, the first two charges would be dropped, and Trindade was acquitted of fraud.
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