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22 Feb, 2024 15:27

Former FC Barcelona star sentenced for rape

Dani Alves will serve more than four years in prison for an attack on a woman in a Spanish nightclub
Former FC Barcelona star sentenced for rape

Retired Brazilian footballer Dani Alves was sentenced to four and a half years in prison by a Spanish court on Thursday after he was found guilty of raping a woman in a Barcelona nightclub in 2022.

The 40-year-old former Barcelona player was found guilty by Catalonia’s top court of the attack, which occurred in the bathroom of an upscale nightclub in the city. Alves has also been ordered by the court to pay €150,000 ($163,000) in compensation to the victim.

“The sentence considers that it has been proven that the victim did not consent, and that there is evidence, in addition to the testimony of the plaintiff, to consider the rape proven,” the court said in a statement.

Alves’ 23-year-old accuser, who maintained her anonymity throughout the trial, said that the former footballer had violently compelled her to engage in sexual acts in a private bathroom of the Sutton nightclub in central Barcelona.

His refusal to release her, despite her begging him to do so, caused her significant “anguish and terror,” prosecutors said during the three-day trial.

Police who attended the scene of the attack told the court that the victim was in a state of “shock” and that she displayed significant anxiety, saying that “nobody would believe her” if she went to the authorities.

Alves stated in his defense that he considered the encounter to be consensual. “I am not that type of man, I am not violent,” he said to the court. “If she wanted to leave, she could have left. She was not obligated to be there.” 

He had first denied any interaction with his accuser, before later stating that he had met her in the nightclub bathroom but that no sexual encounter had taken place. He subsequently changed his story again, saying that the pair had had consensual sex and were “both enjoying ourselves.”

The footballer has been detained since his arrest in January 2023. Bail requests were repeatedly rejected to the court, which considered him a flight risk due to his considerable wealth. Brazil does not extradite its citizens if they are found guilty of crimes in other countries.

Alves, who won 42 trophies during a glittering soccer career, is widely considered to be among the best defenders in football history. His most successful period was with Barcelona between 2008 and 2016, where he won 23 trophies alongside teammates including Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta.

At the time of his arrest, Alves represented the Mexican team Pumas UNAM. He was fired by the club soon afterwards.