Nike says it ended its tie-up with Neymar last year because he refused to cooperate in an investigation into sexual assault allegations against him by an employee of the sportswear maker.
The Brazil international, who became the world’s most expensive player when he signed for Paris Saint-German for €222m in 2017, denies the allegations, his spokeswoman said.
Nike, the world’s biggest sportswear maker, had previously not given a reason for terminating its deal with Neymar.
He had been signed with the company for 15 years.
In a statement, Nike said it viewed the allegations about an incident in 2016 as “credible” but also said that an investigation it had commissioned was inconclusive.
Nike parted ways with Neymar in August 2020, ending one of its most high-profile sponsorship deals. The company gave no reason for the split at the time.
In its statement on Thursday, it said: “It would be inappropriate for Nike to make an accusatory statement without being able to provide supporting facts.”
But it added: “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.”
Nike said the employee reported the allegations in 2018 but initially wanted to avoid an investigation and keep it confidential. It said it commissioned an independent investigation into the matter the following year, when she expressed an interest in pursuing it.
The alleged victim has not been named, with Nike saying: “We continue to respect the confidentiality of the employee and also recognise that this has been a long and difficult experience for her.”
A spokeswoman for Neymar said he denied the sexual assault and split with Nike last year for commercial reasons.
She added that “Neymar Jr will vigorously defend himself against these baseless attacks in case any claim is presented, which did not happen so far”.
Neymar currently plays for French side Paris Saint-Germain.
He previously denied accusations of rape in 2019, in a case that was eventually dropped.