Last August, Nike cut ties with one of the most recognizable names in international sport, Neymar, a Brazilian soccer star currently playing with Paris Saint-Germain. At the time of the split, Neymar still had eight years left on his contract with the brand, who had signed him to the tune of $210 million. But now, Nike is unburdening its sole and coming clean about the reasoning behind the decision—which puts morality ahead of its bottom line, sort of.
In 2016 Neymar was accused of sexually assaulting a Nike employee while in New York. According to the Wall Street Journal, the employee alleges that Neymar tried to force her to perform oral sex on him; when she tried to leave the hotel room they were in, she says he blocked the door and eventually chased her down the hallway, naked. The employee filed a complaint against Neymar in 2018 and the investigation into the incident began the following year.
Neymar denied the allegations and claimed that the split from Nike occurred over “commercial” reasons. But the company is now saying that the split was caused by Neymar’s refusal to cooperate in the investigation into the alleged assault. As Nike’s lawyer told the WSJ, “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.” Naturally, Neymar’s reps are crying foul play and casting doubt on the 2016 incident because it took so long to come to light.
As is the case with successful men, despite being dropped by Nike, a company that had been sponsoring him since he was 13, Neymar bounced back immediately, signing a deal with Puma. He managed to scoop up a few more business ventures along the way, despite a Brazilian woman accusing him of rape. Authorities dropped that investigation, citing a lack of evidence. The Nike employee who he allegedly assaulted is still working at Nike and must still see his face plastered across ad campaigns and posters the world over.