Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar responded to Nike’s “lies” on Friday after a report claimed the reason he and the company's split was due to the fact that he declined to cooperate with a sexual assault investigation.
Nike and Neymar parted ways in 2020, though no reason was given at the time. On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal said that the relationship was terminated after Neymar allegedly sexually assaulted a Nike employee in 2016. After the complaint was filed, Neymar reportedly denied the allegations and refused to cooperate with the investigation.
“I was not given the opportunity to defend myself,” Neymar wrote on Instagram, via ESPN. “I’ve never had any kind of relationship or approach from [my accuser]. I didn’t even have a chance to talk to her, to know the real reasons for her pain. That person, an employee, was not protected. I, a sponsored athlete, was not protected.”
Neymar accused of sexual assault of Nike employee
The sexual assault in question occurred in 2016, and is a separate allegation from the one filed against him in 2019 by a Brazilian model.
The Nike employee filed a complaint in 2018. Neymar reportedly denied the allegations, and allegedly refused to cooperate in the investigation.
“Nike ended its relationship with [Neymar] because he refused to cooperate in a good faith investigation of credible allegations of wrongdoing by an employee,” Nike’s general counsel Hilary Krane told the Journal. “[Nike didn’t discuss the matter publicly before because] 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.”
Neymar, who had been with Nike since he was 13, eventually landed with Puma. He does still wear Nike gear, as PSG and the Brazilian national team both have Nike jerseys and other partnerships.
The Nike employee said that she was helping coordinate with Neymar’s team for a Jordan brand event when the assault occurred.
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. 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.
Neymar said on Instagram that he does not know who the employee is.
"I really don't understand how a serious company can distort a business relationship that is supported by documents,” he said, via ESPN. “Written words cannot be altered. They are very clear.
"Once again I am warned that I cannot comment in public. Against my own will, I shall obey. Irony of fate I will continue to stamp a brand on my chest that betrayed me. That's life for you!
"I remain firm and strong, believing that time, always this cruel time, will bring the true answers."
More from Yahoo Sports: