Nike said it ended its partnership with Neymar da Silva Santos Jr. – better known as Neymar – when the soccer superstar refused to cooperate with an investigation into sexual assault allegations against him.
“Nike ended its relationship with the athlete because he refused to cooperate in good faith with an investigation into credible allegations of employee misconduct,” Nike said in a statement late Thursday.
The Wall Street Journal reported the news first.
The company announced last summer that it had split from Neymar but had not given a reason for the sudden move. The Journal reported that Neymar’s deal with Nike remained eight years at the time.
The company said it was “deeply concerned” by an incident the employee allegedly committed in 2016.
A spokeswoman for Neymar told the WSJ that it denies the allegations. CNBC was unable to contact representatives of the athlete immediately.
Nike said the employee reported the allegations in 2018 and initially wanted to keep them confidential and avoid investigation. As a result, Nike announced that out of respect for the employee’s privacy, no details have been disclosed to law enforcement agencies or third parties.
Nike announced it had commissioned an independent investigation into the allegations in 2019 when the employee expressed an interest in pursuing the matter. However, the company said the investigation was inconclusive.
“There weren’t any facts that would allow us to talk about it. It would be inappropriate for Nike to make an accusatory statement without being able to provide supporting facts,” the company said.
In 2017, Neymar left Spanish club FC Barcelona to join Paris Saint Germain for a record $ 263 million transfer fee.
– CNBC’s Jessica Golden contributed to this report.