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Neymar challenges Nike in split

Soccer superstar Neymar blamed Nike on Friday, questioning how the company handled allegations of sexual assault by Nike employees and arguing why he and the sportswear giant broke up. Was chanted.

In a post on Instagram, Neymar disputed the former sponsor, saying Nike was lying about the reason for the split and knew about the employee’s allegations against him long before taking any action. With such a serious problem, they didn’t do anything. Who is really responsible? ”He wrote.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Nike Endorsement contract with Brazilian superstar has ended After he refused to cooperate with the company’s investigation into allegations that a female employee had sexually assaulted a woman during a promotional tour in New York in 2016.

Nike’s legal adviser, Hillary Crane, responded to the newspaper’s question by saying, “Nike has terminated its relationship with the athlete because it refused to cooperate in a sincere investigation of credible allegations of misconduct by employees.

Neymar, whose full name is Neymar da Silva Santos Jr., has denied allegations of sexual assault. On Friday, he said Nike’s legal adviser had “inappropriately and irresponsibly” discussed the reasons for the termination of the endorsement contract. Neymar said the contract was terminated for commercial reasons.

“I really don’t understand how serious companies can distort the business relationships documented,” Neymar told Instagram, which has more than 150 million followers. It’s a ridiculous lie to say that the contract has expired because he didn’t contribute in good faith, “he wrote.

A Nike spokeswoman declined to comment beyond the company’s statement.

Nike confirmed in a statement late Thursday in the journal’s account of what happened: an employee claimed that there was a sexual assault in 2016, she filed a complaint in 2018, and Nike in 2019. Started an investigation and ended its relationship with Nike in 2020, as Neymar refused to cooperate with the investigation.

Nike said the employee’s claim was “extremely confusing.” “The survey was not definitive,” Nike said. “We continue to respect the confidentiality of this employee and recognize that this has been a long and difficult experience for her.”

According to the newspaper, Nike hired a law firm Cooley LLP in 2019 to conduct an independent investigation. Cooley’s lawyer interviewed witnesses, including Nike employees, the newspaper reported. Neymar’s agent disputed the woman’s testimony during Cooley’s investigation, but the athlete himself refused to be interviewed by Nike investigators, the newspaper reported, citing people familiar with the investigation and documents. ..

Neymar wrote on Friday’s Instagram that Nike didn’t notify him about the incident, despite travel, campaigns and recording sessions in 2018 and 2019. “I wasn’t given the opportunity to defend myself.” “The person who was an employee was not protected. As a sponsored athlete, I was not protected.”

Neymar’s father, Neymar Sr., wrote in the Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo, and Nike Trying to “threate” his son“We were surprised at what happened in 2016. No one remembered this fact anymore. It’s very strange now,” the newspaper reported, as Neymar Sr. said. Neymar doesn’t know this girl. Of course, it came from Nike since we left. “

“If Nike wants a threat, chase Nike.”

A Nike spokeswoman declined to comment on Neymar Senior’s remarks.

Blue Neymar appeared with his father in a 2019 charity soccer match in São Paulo.


Photo:

Miguel Schincariol / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

Several Neymar sponsors declined to comment on the matter, including Puma SE, PokerStars, and Epic Games Inc., the maker of “Fortnite” video games. “Neymar has been a friend of Red Bull since 2010. It’s a public agency issue to find out the facts behind these very serious allegations,” said a representative of energy drink maker Red Bull GmbH. ..

Neymar’s team, Paris Saint-Germain, did not respond to multiple requests for comment on Friday. The situation is currently disrupting the French club. Most expensive player And Nike, a sponsor who has built relationships for decades.

Neymar wrote on Instagram, “Irony of fate, keeps the brand that betrayed me in my heart.”

PSG has been one of Nike’s most prominent football facilities since the 1990s, and recently renewed its contract in 2019, a year after employees reported their allegations against Neymar to Nike’s legal counsel and HR manager. did. The current contract is until 2032.

Even in the most crowded markets, Nike’s approach in Paris stands out. In recent years, Nike has been trying to position the club as a lifestyle brand, not just in the world of sports apparel. PSG Gear will appear on the shoulders of Justin Timberlake, Rihanna and Beyonce, and the team itself will play the Champions League match, famous for Nike’s Jordan-branded jerseys.

Neymar was the perfect crossover ambassador with global appeal and huge fans. When he signed an extension to stay in Paris until 2025 earlier this month, a club backed by a Qatar sovereign wealth fund partially linked his 29-year-old identity.

“The first factor is happiness,” said Neymar, who also appears in the Qatar Airways and Qatar National Bank’s advertising campaigns. “The joy of being part of this team, the team, Paris Saint-Germain, the club”

Neymar is currently attending a training camp with the Brazilian national team preparing for the 2022 World Cup qualifying match.

Write to Joshua Robinson joshua.robinson@wsj.com And Cadilla Safdar khadeeja.safdar@wsj.com

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Neymar challenges Nike in split

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