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Nike Backs Away From British Footballer Accused of Assault

Nike has suspended its relationship with Mason Greenwood, the 20-year-old Manchester United forward who on Sunday was accused of rape and assault on social media.

“We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and will continue to closely monitor the situation,” Nike said in a statement.

The woman accusing Greenwood shared images, video and an audio recording on her personal Instagram account, The New York Times reported. The claims were removed a few hours later.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) announced Sunday that it had arrested “a man in his 20s” “on suspicion of rape and assault.” The department said that earlier that day it had been made aware of “online social media images and videos posted by a woman reporting incidents of physical violence.” GMP did not name the man who was arrested, but British outlets reported Sunday that police had visited the footballer’s house.

BBC reported Monday that GMP have been granted additional time to speak to “a man in his 20s who is being held on suspicion of rape and assault of a woman.” The British news organization concluded that man referenced by the announcement was Greenwood.

Manchester United announced Sunday that the soccer player would not return to training or play “until further notice.”

Should Nike permanently cut ties with Greenwood, it would not be its first time dropping a prominent soccer player over sexual assault allegations. After mysteriously ending its contract with Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar in the summer of 2020, Nike confirmed this past May that it had chosen to end that relationship because the Brazilian superstar “refused to cooperate in a good faith investigation of credible allegations of wrongdoing by an employee.”

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Nike and Neymar had been partnered for 15 years at the time of their split. The pair’s contract, signed in 2011, was set to run through 2022.

According to a report published by the Wall Street Journal in May, an employee had first relayed her allegations to leadership in 2018, the same year Nike’s culture reached an “inflection point,” but initially asked to keep the matter confidential. After a Brazilian model accused Neymar of rape in 2019, however, that employee expressed interest in pursuing the matter, at which point Nike said it “acted immediately” and commissioned an independent investigation that ultimately proved “inconclusive.”

Weeks after Neymar’s departure from Nike, Puma announced it had signed a long-term deal with the soccer player. Since then, the two have partnered on several football boots, as well as a lifestyle sneaker. Neymar continues to play professional soccer.