Updated February 22nd, 2024 at 15:12 IST

BREAKING | Barcelona court finds Brazilian soccer star Dani Alves guilty of sexual assault

Dani Alves, a Brazilian soccer player, was convicted guilty of molesting a young woman in a Barcelona nightclub. Alves throughout the trial denied any wrongdoing. It is possible to appeal the ruling.

Dani Alves sits during his trial in Barcelona, Spain | Image: AP
Advertisement

Brazilian soccer star Dani Alves was found guilty of sexually assaulting a young woman and sentenced to four years, six months in prison on Thursday.

The ruling by three-judge panel in a Barcelona court followed a three-day trial this month.

Advertisement

Alves, aged 40, denied any wrongdoing during the trial. The decision can be appealed.

The court found Alves sexually assaulted his victim early in the morning of Dec. 31, 2022, when she said he raped her in a bathroom of an upscale Barcelona nightclub.

Advertisement

State prosecutors had sought a nine-year prison sentence for Alves while the lawyers representing his accuser wanted 12 years. His defense asked for his acquittal, or if found guilty a one-year sentence plus 50,000 euros ($54,000) compensation for the victim.

Alves has been in jail since being detained on Jan. 20, 2023. His requests for bail were denied because the court considered him a flight risk. Brazil does not extradite its own citizens when they are sentenced in other countries.

Advertisement

The victim told state prosecutors she danced with Alves and willingly entered the nightclub bathroom, but that later when she wanted to leave he would not let her. She said he slapped her, insulted her and forced her to have sexual relations against her will.

Alves modified his defense during the investigative phase while in custody, first denying any sexual contact with her before admitting to sexual relations that he said were consensual. He said he had been trying to save his marriage by not admitting to the encounter initially.

Advertisement

During the trial, his defense focused on trying to show that Alves was drunk when he met the woman.

His conviction shatters Alves’ legacy as one of soccer’s most successful players.

Advertisement

Alves won dozens of titles with elite clubs including Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain. He also helped Brazil win two Copa Americas and an Olympic gold medal at age 38. He played at his third World Cup, the only major title he hasn’t won, in 2022. He played for Barcelona from 2008-16 and briefly rejoined the club in 2022. He still has a residence near the city.

He was with Mexican club Pumas when he was arrested. Pumas terminated his contract immediately.

Advertisement

The Alves case was the first high-profile sex crime since Spain overhauled its legislation in 2022 to make consent, or the lack thereof, central to defining a sex crime in response to an upswell of protests after a gang-rape case during the San Fermin bull-running festival in Pamplona in 2016.

Advertisement

Published February 22nd, 2024 at 15:12 IST