Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar responded to the sportswear manufacturer Nike Inc., This Friday, the company’s statement that it had terminated a sponsorship deal because the footballer refused to cooperate with an investigation into alleged sexual harassment of a sports company employee was “an absurd lie”.
In a story first reported by The Wall Street Journal on Thursday, Nike, who had the player on a long-term contract, said he had terminated the contract after bringing in what he said were “credible” allegations against an employee last year.
Neymar denies the allegations. He is currently training with the Brazilian team in Rio rather than the Copa America this summer.
“They never gave me a chance to defend themselves,” he wrote on Instagram. “I have never had any relationship or attitude with this person. I have not had the opportunity to talk to her and find out the real reasons for her pain. That person, an employee is not protected. I, a sponsor athlete, he is not protected.”
The company said in a statement that sexual harassment allegedly took place in 2016, but the employee initially asked for the matter to be kept secret, and that Nike began its investigation in 2019 after the woman expressed interest in pursuing the matter legally.
Nike said it could not talk about the case in detail, adding that when its business relationship with the player ended, the investigation was not conclusive.
“No facts have come out that would allow us to speak substantially on this matter,” Nike said. “It is inappropriate for Nike to issue an indictment without being able to provide supporting data.”
Neymar, however, denied the allegations, saying he did not know the employee in question, adding on Instagram: “I do not really understand how a serious relationship can be distorted by a business relationship backed by documents. Written words cannot be changed. They are very clear.
“I am again advised not to comment in public. Against my own will, I will obey.
“Contradiction of fate. I will continue to stamp the mark that betrayed me on my chest. This is life for someone!”
“I stand firm and strong, and hope that time, as always, will bring real answers to this terrible time.”
Information from Reuters and the Associated Press was used in this story.