Neymar has hit out at Nike for claiming he was dropped for ‘refusing to cooperate’ in an internal sexual assault investigation involving himself and an employee.
The alleged incident reportedly occurred in 2016 when the Brazilian forward was in New York City for a marketing event with Nike.
Nike later announced they sacked the Brazilian winger last year over the incident.
The PSG star had a lucrative £78.6m sponsorship deal with Nike, which was due to run until 2022, but ended his partnership with the American brand last September before signing a money-spinning deal to become the new face of Puma.
Nike did not disclose a reason at the time for dropping Neymar, who they had first signed as a 13-year-old, but have now revealed the early end to their endorsement deal came about following an investigation into allegations that the 29-year-old had sexually assaulted a female employee.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the Nike employee alleged that in 2016 Neymar attempted to force her to perform oral sex in his hotel room while in New York City for a promotional event and after taking off his underwear had tried to block her from leaving the room before chasing her down the hallway.
Neymar, 29, has denied the allegations against him and posted an angry Instagram post, branding Nike’s claims over their contract dispute as a lie.
The post read: ‘I really don’t understand how a serious company can distort a business relationship that is supported by documents. Written words cannot be modified. They are very clear. They leave no doubt!
‘Ever since I was 13 years old, when I signed my first contract, I was always warned: don’t talk about your Agrements (sic). Agreements are confidential! Contradict this rule and state that my contract was terminated because I did not contribute in good faith to an investigation, is an absurd lie.
The statement from Neymar continued: ‘The WSL story is very clear. In 2016 it seems that they already knew about this event. I didn’t! In 2017 I traveled again to the USA for another advertising campaign, with the same people, and nothing was told to me, nothing changed!
‘In 2017, 2018, 2019 we made trips, advertising campaigns, countless shooting sections. And they told me nothing. Such a serious matter and they did nothing. Who is truly responsible?
‘I was not given the opportunity to defend myself. I was not given the opportunity to know who this person was that was allegedly offended. I don’t even know her. I’ve never had any kind of relationship or approach with this person.
‘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.’
A spokeswoman for Neymar also said: ‘Neymar Jr. will vigorously defend himself against these baseless attacks in case any claim is presented, which did not happen so far.’
She also added that Neymar and Nike had ended their 16-year association for commercial reasons.
By Terry W.