Dani Alves jailed as ex-Barcelona star found guilty of raping woman in a nightclub | Football | Sport

Former Barcelona defender Dani Alves has been sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison after being found guilty of raping a woman in a Spanish nightclub. The 40-year-old has also been ordered to pay the victim £128,500 (€150,000).

Barcelona’s top court found the ex-footballer guilty of sexually assaulting the woman in the early hours of New Year’s Eve in 2022. The victim said Alves raped her in the bathroom.

Alves was first arrested in 2023. He has been detained since then and was denied bail as the court considered him a flight risk.

Prosecutors were told by the victim that on the night of the rape, she danced with Alves and willingly entered the bathroom. She later wanted to leave the bathroom but Alves forced her to stay.

She said he then slapped her, insulted her and forced her to have sexual relations against her will. Alves initially denied knowing the accuser but changed his version of events – something he did throughout the trial – claiming that he had met her in the bathroom but that no sexual relations had happened.

He then altered his story again, but claimed that sex had been “consensual”. He alleged: “We were both enjoying ourselves.”

Prosecutors said Alves and his friend had bought champagne for three women before asking one of them to accompany him to another area with a toilet, which she had no knowledge of. At that point they said he turned violent, forcing the woman to have sex despite her repeated requests to leave.

Alves’s defence during the trial centred around trying to prove he was drunk when he met the woman.

The prosecution had asked for a nine-year prison sentence. His defence had asked for his acquittal, or if found guilty a one-year sentence plus £42,765 (€50,000) compensation for the victim. The court’s decision can be appealed.

In Spain, a claim of rape is investigated under the general accusation of sexual assault, and convictions can lead to prison sentences of four to 15 years. In October 2022, Spanish legislation was passed to make sexual consent central in determining assault cases, in a bid to define all non-consensual sex as rape.

The new law emphasises the importance of consent under the so-called “only yes is yes” principle.

Alves is one of the most decorated players in world football. With Barcelona, he won six La Liga titles and three Champions Leagues. He represented Brazil in three World Cups, including in 2022 at the age of 39.

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