Nike splits with Neymar due to refusal to co-operate in sexual assault probe

Earlier this season, there was a major change in sponsorship deals of Neymar Jr. The Brazilian footballer switched from Nike to Puma. Nike has finally broken silence and revealed the reason behind not renewing the deal with Neymar. The sportswear brand parted ways with Neymar last year after he refused to cooperate in a good faith investigation as the company probed an employee’s claim that he sexually assaulted her. 

Nike in a statement said that the investigation into the alleged 2016 incident, reported to the company in 2018 was inconclusive. As not a 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. 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.”

Wall street journal reported this week about the fallout between Nike and Neymar. The Brazilian footballer was accused of assault on a female employee from Nike in this report. The spokeswoman for Neymar has completely denied these claims.

In September 2020, Neymar ended his 15-year partnership with Nike which was worth £78.6million after this dispute. Neymar has signed a long-term endorsement deal with sports apparel and accessories giants Puma. The Brazilian’s new deal with Puma earns him more than $30 million per year, which is more than what Lionel Messi earns with Adidas ($24 million per year) and Cristiano Ronaldo with Nike ($20 million). Neymar’s deal with Puma is the biggest personal deal in football.

Many players have left Nike in the last few years. Raheem Sterling, Sergio Ramos, Robert Lewandowski have all left Nike for a different brand. Sterling has joined New Balance, Ramos joined Adidas, and Lewandowski has joined Puma. Nike has become very careful in how to spend money in football as they are not using their budget to sign every player on the market like they were doing before. 

Nike has adopted a new strategy investing in young players and letting the older ones go. They signed Erling Haaland in place of Lewandoski. Kylian Mbappe got a new contract and is likely to be the replacement for Neymar, while Marcus Rashford is another important player for Nike.

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