Dani Alves jailed: Former Barcelona, Brazil footballer sent to prison for rape after trial in Spain

Dani Alves, the former Barcelona and Brazil footballer, has been sentenced to four and a half years in prison after being convicted of raping a woman by a court in Spain.

A top court in the Catalonia region found him guilty of sexual assault following an incident in a nightclub on December 31, 2022.

Alves, who was arrested in January 2023 and has been held in custody since, denied the allegations. After changing his story repeatedly, he insisted any sexual relations with the woman were consensual.

Following a trial in February 2024, the 40-year-old was handed a prison sentence and ordered to pay the victim €150,000 ($160,000). He was also given a further five years’ probationary order.

Alves — whose sentence was reported by Spanish media to have been reduced from the maximum available, given the court took into account that he opted to pay the victim compensation regardless of the outcome — can appeal against his conviction.

Alves had also tried to use as mitigation the fact that he was drunk, but the court rejected it.

His lawyers told reporters outside the court that they maintained their client’s innocence, and that he did indeed intend to appeal.

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Dani Alves jailed: Former Brazil player found guilty of rape after trial in Spain

Alves was first arrested in January 2023 after an incident in a Barcelona nightclub on New Year’s Eve in 2022.

The victim accused Alves of physical aggression and forcing her to have sex with him after she willingly entered a nightclub bathroom with him after they had been dancing.

Alves denied wrongdoing and told the court during his trial: “I am not that kind of man.” He said they had consensual sex and that he had been drinking that night.

The former right-back, who won 126 caps for the Brazil national team and was part of the squad at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, was detained following his initial arrest and denied bail, as he was considered a potential flight risk. Brazilian law states its citizens can be protected from extradition.

At the trial, judges found Alves guilty of sexual assault, concluding in a statement 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.” 

Alves “grabbed the complainant, threw her to the ground and prevented her from being able to move” on the night in question, the court added. He then raped her while “she said no and wanted to leave.”

The case has attracted significant attention in Spain due to Alves’ profile but also because of a new law passed in 2022 — known as “Only Yes is Yes” — which made consent a key element in sexual assault cases.

Dani Alves football career

Alves, who was born in Bahia, Brazil, is one of the most successful male footballers in history, best known for a total of nine years over two spells at Barcelona and for representing the senior Brazil national team for 16 years.

During his 22-year professional career, which saw him play for clubs including Sevilla, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Sao Paulo, Alves won 37 club trophies, including league titles in Spain, Italy and France, and the UEFA Champions League three times.

Alves won the Copa America and FIFA Confederations Cup twice with Brazil and was an Olympic gold medalist in 2020. He was named in the FIFA FIFPro World11 eight times, most recently in 2018.

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