Nike has revealed why it cut ties with one of the world's biggest sport superstars when he had more than a year left on his contract. The company said in a statement to CNN Thursday that it dropped Brazilian soccer player Neymar because he "refused to cooperate in a good faith investigation of credible allegations of wrongdoing by an employee." The Wall Street Journal, citing company sources and documents, reports that a female Nike employee accused the 29-year-old of sexually assaulting her in 2016. The employee said that when Neymar visited New York City as part of a Nike campaign, hotel staff asked her to help the apparently intoxicated player to his hotel room. She said Neymar tried to force her to perform oral sex and attempted to stop her from fleeing the room, the Journal reports.
The woman—a longtime Nike employee who is still with the company—informed friends and other Nike employees at the time, but didn't file a complaint until 2018, when other Nike workers were coming forward to share experiences of sexual harassment, the Journal's sources say. The company launched an investigation in 2019 but Neymar refused to be interviewed. The player, who had been with Nike for 15 years, signed a deal with Puma weeks after Nike cut its ties with him. A Neymar rep tells CNN that Neymar will "vigorously defend himself" against the allegations. The rep claims Neymar ended his relationship with Nike " for commercial reasons." (Neymar was accused of rape in 2019.)