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28 May, 2021 17:24

‘I didn’t even have a chance to talk to her’: Neymar vows to reveal ‘true facts’ over ‘absurd lies’ in Nike sexual assault inquiry

‘I didn’t even have a chance to talk to her’: Neymar vows to reveal ‘true facts’ over ‘absurd lies’ in Nike sexual assault inquiry

Brazil ace Neymar has hit back over allegations that his Nike contract was ended prematurely because he failed to co-operate with an investigation into a claim by an employee that he tried to force them to perform oral sex on him.

Speaking amid the fallout from an explosive story over an alleged incident that took place in a New York hotel and was said to have been the subject of a lengthy inquiry, the Paris Saint-Germain playmaker insisted he had not had any dealings with the employee, blasted Nike for "distorting" facts and said that he had been kept in the dark and given no opportunity to defend himself.

The world's most expensive player claimed that he had been "betrayed" by the brand and told "nothing" about any investigation during several subsequent promotional trips as part of his lucrative sponsorship contract, adding that he was resisting revealing more about the deal "against my own will" and vowing that the "appropriate measures" were being taken in order for the "real reasons" behind the split to be explained.

"I can even understand when someone criticizes my conduct, the way I play and live my life. We are different," said the striker, who is no stranger to life in the spotlight.

"I really don't understand how a serious company can distort a business relationship that is supported by documents. Written words cannot be modified. They are very clear. They leave no doubt.

"Ever since I was 13 years old, when I signed my first contract, I was always warned: don't talk about your agreements. Agreements are confidential.

"To contradict this rule and state that my contract was terminated because I did not contribute in good faith to an investigation is an absurd lie.

"Once again, I am warned that I cannot comment this or anything regarding to the agreement in public. Against my own will, I shall obey."

The employee, who was part of a team co-ordinating Neymar's activities in the US, complained in 2018 about an incident which she said had happened in 2016, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSL).

After reportedly being under the initial impression that she did not want to take the matter further, Nike asked lawyers to look into the allegations in 2019, having had confirmation that the accuser wanted action to be taken, the report said.

"But the WSL story is very clear," Neymar told his hundreds of millions of Instagram followers, writing alongside a photo of one of his tattoos.

"In 2016, it seems that they already knew about this event. I didn't. In 2017, I traveled again to the USA for another advertising campaign, with the same people, and nothing was told to me – nothing changed.

"In 2017, 2018, 2019 we made trips, advertising campaigns, countless shooting sections. And they told me nothing. Such a serious matter and they did nothing. Who is truly responsible?

"I was not given the opportunity to defend myself. I was not given the opportunity to know who this person was that was allegedly offended.

"I don't even know her. I've never had any kind of relationship or approach with this person. I didn't even have a chance to talk to her, to know the real reasons for her pain.

"That person, an employee, was not protected. I, a sponsored athlete, was not protected. Until when will this happen?

"The irony of fate is I will continue to stamp a brand on my chest that betrayed me. That's life for you. I remain firm and strong, believing that time – always this cruel time – will bring the true answers. Faith in god."

Speaking to the WSL about the premature culmination of Neymar's $105 million deal last year, when it was reported to have had eight years left to run, Nike general counsel Hilary Krane said that “no single set of facts emerged that would enable us to speak substantively on the matter" and "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 co-operate in a good faith investigation of credible allegations of wrongdoing by an employee," claimed Krane.

“As her employer, we had a responsibility to respect her privacy and did not believe it was appropriate to share that information with law enforcement or any third party without the employee’s consent.

“In 2019, when the employee later expressed interest in pursuing the matter, we acted immediately. From the very beginning, we have treated the employee’s allegations and her experience with great seriousness.”

Responding via the website of his image management company, Neymar repeated the denial he initially issued to the WSJ and issued a further statement.

"Neymar Jr denies these allegations," the announcement said. "Similar to the sexual assault allegations made against him [by a Brazilian model] in 2019 – allegations of which the Brazilian authorities found Neymar Jr innocent – these allegations are false.

"Neymar Jr will vigorously defend himself against these baseless attacks in case any claim is presented, which did not happen so far.

Also on rt.com Neymar ‘tried to force female employee to perform oral sex on him in hotel room’ before his mammoth $105MN Nike deal ended early

"Neymar Jr and Nike ended the relationship for commercial reasons, which had been discussed since 2019 – nothing related to these reported facts. It is very strange that a case that was supposed to have happened in 2016, with allegations by a Nike employee, comes to light only at this moment.

"Regarding the accusations, there is nothing to add because the athlete, Neymar, during these five years, was never directly accused and prosecuted by the Nike employee.

"Regarding Nike's statements, made improperly and irresponsibly by the Company's general counsel, Hilary Krane, about the alleged reason for terminating the contract with the athlete, Neymar Jr, it is important to clarify that the real and true facts are totally dissociated from the statement provided.

"Despite all the reported untruths, we will not present, for the time being, the documents that reveal the form of termination of the contract for obvious reasons of strict secrecy and confidentiality, in full compliance with the ethical and corporate governance principles that should guide the conduct of a company.

"The appropriate measures are already being adopted and soon the real reasons shall be revealed and the facts clarified."

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