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Nike ends partnership with Neymar amid sexual assault investigation

Nike ends its partnership with Neymar when he declined to support an investigation into sexual assault charges against him. Nike first signed Neymar to a sponsorship deal in 2005, when he was just 13 years old, and played for the youth team of Santos FC, one of Brazil’s biggest clubs. The company continued to sponsor Neymar after moving to FC Barcelona and then Paris Saint-Germain, establishing himself as one of the best and most popular players in the world. But he changed loyalty to Puma in 2020, without explanation, to leave Nike before his contract expired.

“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,” Nike said in a late Thursday statement.

According to The Wall Street Journal, in 2018, a long-term employee filed a complaint with Nike, citing the documents he investigated and did not name people familiar with the investigation. According to the source, the complaint states that during a marketing tour in the United States in June 2016, a woman helped Neymar, who appeared to be intoxicated, in his hotel room after midnight. As per reports, and according to the complaint, Neymar tried to force the woman to have oral sex and prevented her from leaving the room.

According to The Journal report, the woman asked Nike about the status of her complaint in 2019. The company, which believed the woman did not want her to take any action in this regard, hired an outside law firm to conduct the investigation, according to Nike’s statement. While representatives of Neymar denied the allegations leveled at the law firm, according to reports, they refused to be interviewed in person, ending their sponsorship agreement. A 29-year-old spokesperson for Neymar did not immediately respond to a request for comment but denied the allegations by The Journal.

Around the same time in 2019, Neymar was accused of raping a Brazilian model, Najila Trindade, whom he had taken to Paris. He stated that he had consensual sex and posted several explicit messages with Trindade on social media, resulting in a backlash against Neymar and several of his sponsors.

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