Nike dropped soccer superstar Neymar after he refused to cooperate in sexual assault probe
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Nike ended its partnership with soccer star Neymar last year due to his refusal to cooperate with a probe into sexual assault allegations against him, the company said.  

Nike confirmed with The Hill the reasoning behind its decision to end the contract with the Paris Saint-Germain and Brazilian national team player.

The news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, based on internal documents and conversations with current and former employees. 

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“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," the company said in a statement. 

Neymar, whose full name is Neymar da Silva Santos Jr., had signed with Nike at just 13 years old, before he became a professional soccer star in Brazil and Europe. 

In August, Nike ended its partnership with him with eight years left on the contract, though the athletic equipment and apparel company did not publicly state a reason at the time. 

The Journal reports that a Nike employee alleges that in 2016, Neymar attempted to force her to perform oral sex on him in his New York hotel room while she was attempting to coordinate events and business matters for the player. 

Nike said in a statement to The Hill that the employee filed a complaint in 2018 reporting the incident, adding, "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," the statement added. "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."

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Nike added that in 2019 the employee "expressed interest in pursuing the matter," and the company subsequently "commissioned an independent investigation and retained separate independent legal counsel for the employee, of her choosing and at the company’s expense."

"From the very beginning, we have treated the employee’s allegations and her experience with great seriousness," Nike told The Hill. 

However, Nike said that Neymar refused to cooperate with the probe, and the company subsequently decided to break its contract with him in 2020. 

Nike told The Hill that it had not previously released details on the situation with the public because the investigation was inconclusive, adding that “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,” the company said. 

Neymar has denied the allegations, with his spokeswoman saying in a statement to the Journal, “Neymar Jr. will vigorously defend himself against these baseless attacks in case any claim is presented, which did not happen so far.”