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Nike‘s partnership with soccer superstar Neymar da Silva Santos Jr. — better known simply as Neymar — came to an end last year because of a sexual assault investigation launched by the company that involved the player and an employee, The Wall Street Journal reported late Thursday.
The company announced last summer it had parted ways with Neymar, but had not given a reason for the sudden move. According to the report, Neymar’s contract with Nike still had eight more years remaining.
The report, which cites people familiar with the matter and reviewed documents, said the company was investigating an allegation that the Brazil native had sexually assaulted a female employee. A spokeswoman for Neymar told the WSJ he denies the allegations.
The complaint was filed to Nike in 2018, the report said. In 2019, the company hired outside council to carry out an investigation. Nike later decided to stop featuring Neymar in its marketing, the report added.
Nike did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
In 2017, Neymar left Spanish club FC Barcelona to join Paris Saint Germain for a record transfer fee of $263 million.