Neymar Says Nike Claim Of Split Over Sex Assault Probe A ‘Lie’

Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar warms up prior to the UEFA Champions League first leg semi-final football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Manchester City at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on April 28, 2021. Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

 

Neymar said Friday Nike’s claim that it parted ways with him last year because he refused to cooperate with its internal investigation into an employee’s accusation he sexually assaulted her was an “absurd lie.”

The allegation is the latest to stain the image of the Brazilian superstar, whose 222-million-euro ($270 million) transfer from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 makes him the world’s most expensive footballer.

Nike said Thursday it had ended its sponsorship deal with Neymar over an employee’s claim he tried to force himself on her and his failure to cooperate with its investigation.

“(To) state that my contract (with Nike) was terminated because I did not contribute in good faith to an investigation is an absurd lie,” Neymar wrote on Instagram.

“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.”

Nike said the alleged assault happened in 2016, but was only reported to the company in 2018.

The US sportswear giant had sponsored Neymar, 29, since he was a 13-year-old prodigy.

It did not give a reason when it terminated its deal with him in August 2020.

The superstar is now a poster boy for Puma. His deal with the German sportswear giant was announced in September 2020.

‘They did nothing’

The Nike employee accused Neymar of trying to force her to perform oral sex on him in a New York hotel room during a promotional trip for a new line of sneakers, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first broke the story.

Neymar denied the accusation, and said Nike had nevertheless continued sending him on promotional tours.

“In 2017 I traveled again to the USA for another advertising campaign, with the same people, and nothing was told to me, nothing changed!” he wrote.

“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.”

In a previous statement, a Neymar spokeswoman said he and Nike had split for commercial reasons.

The player’s father accused the company of “blackmail.”

“It’s all very strange” that the accusation only came to light years later, after Neymar left Nike, he told Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo.

Tarnished star

Nike said in a statement it was prepared to investigate in 2018 when the woman first came forward, but “respected the employee’s initial desire to keep this matter confidential and avoid an investigation.”

The firm therefore did not go further until 2019, when she expressed an interest in pursuing the matter, it said.

That was the same year another woman filed a rape complaint against Neymar in his native Brazil.

He vehemently denied that accusation, and the case was eventually dropped.

Neymar is currently in Brazil training with the national team north of Rio de Janeiro ahead of two upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

The superstar seemed “normal, the same as always,” teammate Emerson told a news conference.

Neymar extended his contract with French champions PSG earlier this month, through the 2024-2025 season.

With his on-pitch exploits and huge following on social media, Neymar is one of the biggest names in sports.

But his shine has often been tarnished.

His image as an eternal spoiled child was revived late last year by rumors of a huge year-end party he organized in Brazil in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

He has also raised eyebrows with his alleged diving, hard-partying lifestyle, and love of bling, which critics say contrasts with the relative lack of it in his trophy case.

AFP

Three PSG Players Found To Have Virus During Lockdown

 

Three Paris Saint-Germain players and another member of staff were found to have contracted coronavirus during lockdown but are “no longer contagious” after further tests, the French champions said Tuesday.

PSG said the unnamed players were free to take part in training when it resumes later this week after undergoing “serological tests” on Monday.

READ ALSO: French Football Season Declared Over, PSG Awarded Title

“Those concerned had symptoms during confinement when they weren’t in contact with each other,” PSG said in a statement. “They are no longer contagious and can carry on their training programme.”

PSG still have big matches to look forward in the coming months despite the Ligue 1 season being ended early due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

They are still to play in the French Cup and League Cup finals, as well as the Champions League ‘final eight’ tournament in Lisbon in August.

Neymar Dedicates PSG Goal To Kobe Bryant

 

Neymar dedicated his second goal at Lille to basketball legend Kobe Bryant, whose death on Sunday in a helicopter crash shocked the world.

The Brazilian slotted home the 52nd-minute penalty that put PSG two goals up in the French Ligue 1 clash and went over to the television cameras by the side of the Stade Pierre Mauro pitch to make the number 24 with his fingers in honour of Bryant’s shirt number.

Bryant, who had been nominated for the NBA Hall of Fame in December, was confirmed dead at 41 years old on Sunday after a helicopter crashed and burst into flames in foggy conditions in suburban Los Angeles, leaving five people dead.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s officials said there were no survivors from the morning crash on a rugged hillside in Calabasas, west of LA.

In an email to AFP, Mayor of Calabasas Alicia Weintraub confirmed Bryant was among the victims.

“Yes, it is confirmed,” Weintraub wrote.

I Would Like Him To Join Atletico, Says Cavani’s Father

Paris Saint-Germain’s Uruguayan forward Edinson Cavani heads the ball during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain and AS Monaco at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on January 12, 2020. Bertrand GUAY / AFP

 

Edinson Cavani wants to join Atletico Madrid and is being treated “unfairly” by Paris Saint-Germain, the Uruguay striker’s father said on Wednesday.

Cavani, 32, has fallen out of favour at PSG, where he is competing with Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, Mauro Icardi and Angel di Maria for starting spots in the attack.

Several clubs are reportedly keen on signing Cavani, who has scored a club-record 198 goals for PSG and whose contract expires in the summer. Atletico appear to be the 32-year-old’s preferred choice but the La Liga outfit and PSG are yet to agree on a fee.

“I would like him to play there, (Atletico coach Diego) Simeone wants him now but the head coach of Paris Saint-Germain (Thomas Tuchel) says he needs him to help them compete in the Champions League,” Cavani’s father Luis told Spanish television programme El Chiringuito.

“I think there is a strong chance he will go to Atletico. There is also the option to join the club in June. There are lots of other clubs interested but when you give your word to a team, you respect it.

“If he is allowed to leave tomorrow and Atletico still want him, I think he will sign. He is a player who needs time to play and at the moment he only plays four or six minutes per game. PSG are treating him unfairly.”

Atletico have struggled for goals this season and currently sit third in La Liga, eight points behind Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Cavani would give the club a welcome mid-season boost, with a crunch last-16 tie against Liverpool to come in the Champions League next month.

“Paris Saint-Germain have rejected three bids from Atletico Madrid,” Cavani’s mother Berta Gomez told Madrid newspaper AS on Wednesday.

“My son has asked to leave and we are waiting for an agreement from both clubs.

“He is angry because he does not understand why are blocking him leaving if they do not count on him to play.”

AFP

Payet Fires Marseille To Fiery Derby Win After Fans Attack Lyon Bus

Marseille’s French midfielder Dimitri Payet celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal during the French L1 football match between Olympique de Marseille (OM) and Olympique Lyonnais (OL) on November 10, 2019 at the Orange Velodrome stadium in Marseille, southeastern France. Sylvain THOMAS / AFP

 

Dimitri Payet scored twice as 10-man Marseille beat rivals Lyon 2-1 on Sunday in a bad-tempered derby which was overshadowed by the behaviour of a record home crowd.

The build-up to the game was focused on former Marseille boss Rudi Garcia’s return to the Stade Velodrome after his controversial decision to join Lyon as coach, but it is more likely to be remembered for ugly scenes off the pitch.

Home supporters attacked the Lyon bus with stones, bottles and other projectiles on its way to the stadium, before visiting players were repeatedly bombarded with objects thrown from the crowd while taking corners during the match.

Payet netted a first-half double as Marseille moved second in the Ligue 1 table, eight points adrift of Paris Saint-Germain.

The Lyon team coach was left with two shattered windows by the pre-game ambush, with club president Jean-Michel Aulas threatening to pull his team out of the match if anything else happened.

“We were bombarded with stones, bottles and other projectiles. It’s a disgrace, it’s just sick,” regional newspaper La Provence reported an unidentified passenger of the bus saying.

The match was also suspended for two minutes in the second half due to thick smoke billowing around the pitch, coming from pyrotechnics by the record Marseille crowd of 65,421.

Earlier in the evening, around 6,000 fans had gathered at a city beach to perform a short but boisterous ceremonial parade to celebrate Marseille’s 120th anniversary.

On-field controversy

Controversy also reigned on the pitch early on, as Marseille were awarded a penalty in the 13th minute for a clear handball by Thiago Mendes.

But there was a lengthy stoppage for a VAR review, before Leo Dubois collapsed to the floor in apparent agony after being lightly slapped by Dario Benedetto as the players waited for the penalty to be taken.

Another VAR check deciding against sending off the Marseille forward, with Payet slamming the spot-kick into the top corner five minutes after it had been originally awarded.

Lyon struggled to pose a threat up front, although their players did have to avoid several missiles, including plastic bags and cups, thrown from the stands.

Marseille moved two goals in front when Payet, who was in inspired form, won the ball from Bertrand Traore inside his own half, before later finishing the move with a low drive into the bottom corner.

Lyon gave themselves hope shortly after the interruption as Moussa Dembele headed home in the 59th minute when Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda and defender Alvaro left Traore’s cross for each other.

Spaniard Alvaro was sent off just minutes later for hauling down Dembele with the striker clean through on goal.

But OM managed to hold on despite some late Lyon pressure, with Martin Terrier blasting the final chance wide in the 90th minute.

“It’s a night to enjoy,” said Marseille boss Andre Villas-Boas. “Payet was very motivated, he had a great match.

“I hope it will continue. We had a great desire to win the game. We felt that, and we had talked about that desire this week.”

Garcia’s Lyon remain 14th in the table, only four points above the relegation zone.

Elsewhere on Sunday, Lyon’s local rivals Saint-Etienne moved up to fourth with a 3-2 victory at Nantes, who have slipped from second to ninth in the table after four straight league defeats.

PSG had extended their advantage at the top on Saturday thanks to Mauro Icardi’s late winner in a 2-1 success at Brest.

Neymar Jeered, Insulted By Angry Fans On Return To PSG Team

 

Neymar was loudly jeered and met with a barrage of insults by Paris Saint-Germain fans on Saturday as he made his first appearance for the club in four months in their Ligue 1 game at home to Strasbourg.

The world’s most expensive player’s name was booed by supporters when the teams were read out at the Parc des Princes, and his first touches of the ball were also whistled.

The Brazilian was also greeted with loud chants in Spanish aimed at his mother. A banner briefly unfurled at one end of the ground in Portuguese, aimed at Neymar’s father who is also his agent, read: “Neymar Senior, sell your son in the Vila Mimosa”.

Vila Mimosa is a district of Rio de Janeiro known for prostitution.

Neymar had not played for PSG in four months having spent the close season trying to push through a return to his former club Barcelona, two years after moving in the opposite direction.

The transfer window closed on September 2, bringing the saga to an end.

The 27-year-old has since been away on international duty for Brazil in two friendly matches in the United States, scoring one goal and making another in a 2-2 draw with Colombia and then coming on as a substitute in a 1-0 loss to Peru.

Those were his first appearances this season after he was left out of PSG’s opening four league games amid the uncertainty over his future.

Neymar is suspended for PSG’s opening Champions League game against Real Madrid on Wednesday.

Neymar Scores Injury-Time Winner As PSG Beat Strasbourg

Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar celebrates after scoring a goal during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Racing Club de Strasbourg Alsace (RCS) on September 14, 2019 at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. Martin BUREAU / AFP

 

Neymar marked his return to action for Paris Saint-Germain for the first time in four months with a stunning overhead kick in injury time that gave his team a 1-0 win over Strasbourg on Saturday.

The world’s most expensive player, resigned to another season in France after failing to get the move back to Barcelona he so desired, had been given a hostile reception by angry PSG fans throughout the match at the Parc des Princes.

However, his acrobatic effort in the 92nd minute broke the deadlock and gave PSG a 1-0 win as they stay top of the Ligue 1 table.

Cavani, Mbappe Injured As PSG’s Problems Pile Up Despite Win

 

Paris Saint-Germain lost star strikers Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe to injuries on Sunday as the French champions’ problems continued to mount despite a 4-0 thrashing of Toulouse.

Thomas Tuchel’s men, who lost at Rennes last time out, have seen the start of their season dominated by the Neymar transfer saga.

The Brazilian was once again left out of the matchday squad at the Parc des Princes amid rumours of a move to Real Madrid or return to Barcelona, and Tuchel saw his strikeforce totally dismantled as Cavani and Mbappe both hobbled off — as did centre-back Abdou Diallo.

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting scored a second-half double, but only after coming on as a substitute for the injured Cavani, while Mbappe also departed the scene after appearing to pull up with a hamstring injury following a trademark burst into the box.

The capital-city giants sit three points behind early Ligue 1 pace-setters Rennes, who made it three wins from three by beating Strasbourg 2-0.

Tuchel responded to last weekend’s defeat by making three changes to his starting XI, including dropping captain Thiago Silva to the bench.

Mbappe twice came close to settling any early nerves in the first four minutes, but was denied both times by Toulouse goalkeeper Baptiste Reynet.

READ ALSO: Griezmann Nets Brace As Barca Put Five Past Betis

With Neymar looking increasingly likely to be heading to the exit door, PSG’s woes deepened when they lost another member of their fabled ‘MCN’ forward line as Cavani left the pitch in the 14th minute to be replaced by the usually much less potent Choupo-Moting.

Silva was introduced before half-time as Diallo, a close-season signing from Borussia Dortmund, also broke down injured.

The home side started the second period well, though, and it was Choupo-Moting — whose stint at PSG has so far been best known for a shocking miss last season against Strasbourg — who turned past one defender, span around another, and drilled the ball into the bottom corner.

Visiting left-back Mathieu Goncalves scored a calamitous 55th-minute own goal by slicing a tame, bouncing ball away from Reynet’s gloves and into the roof of the net.

A difficult night for PSG got worse when Angel Di Maria, who would be expected to step up in the possible absences of Neymar, Cavani and Mbappe, saw a penalty comfortably saved by Reynet.

But former Stoke player Choupo-Moting suggested he may be able to shoulder some of the burden, slotting in his second and PSG’s third with 15 minutes remaining before Marquinhos’ late header added further gloss to the scoreline.

Rennes go top

Earlier on Sunday, Rennes backed up their shock win over PSG last weekend with victory at Strasbourg.

Julien Stephan’s side, who also stunned PSG to win last season’s French Cup, saw off 10-man Strasbourg thanks to goals in either half from Clement Grenier and M’Baye Niang to maintain their 100-percent start to the season.

Elsewhere, Monaco’s miserable form continued as they blew a 2-0 half-time lead to be held to a 2-2 draw by fellow strugglers Nimes in the principality.

Close-season signings Islam Slimani and Wissam Ben Yedder put Leonardo Jardim’s men, who only narrowly avoided relegation last term, in control at the break.

But Brazilian centre-back Jemerson’s 55th-minute red card changed the game, before Romain Philippoteaux and 18-year-old Togolese Kevin Denkey struck to grab Nimes a point.

The referee threatened to halt the game due to Nimes fans insulting French league chiefs with offensive language.

The league has mooted the idea of introducing a list of banned words in stadiums in an attempt to combat homophobia and bad language, but Nimes supporters hit back by telling them to “go fuck yourselves”.

A message over the PA system was read out to fans warning them to stop the chants or the game could be stopped, before the match continued with the Monaco supporters joining in with their Nimes counterparts.