Dani Alves: Former Brazil and Barcelona Player Found Guilty of Sexual Assault

In a ruling delivered on Thursday, Catalonia’s highest court convicted former Brazilian football star Dani Alves of committing sexual assault against a woman at a Barcelona nightclub back in 2022. The verdict mandates a sentence of 4½ years behind bars for Alves, along with a financial penalty of €150,000 ($162,990) to be paid 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.

The former star has maintained his innocence and stance that the sex was consensual. Outside the courthouse, his lawyers told reporters that he plans to appeal the sentence. In addition to the prison term, the sentence includes a five-year probation and a 9½-year restraining order. Ultimately, Alves was given half the time behind bars that the prosecutor had been seeking.

“We are satisfied as the sentence recognizes what we’ve been saying all along: that the victim was telling the truth and that she suffered,” the victim’s lawyer, David Saenz, told reporters.

Alves’ team didn’t agree with the verdict: “We are going to appeal. I still believe in Dani Alves’ innocence. We haven’t read the whole sentence yet because it’s very long, but we are going to study it in detail now. We defend [Alves’] innocence,” said Alves’ lawyer, Ines Guardiola.

The former footballer, 40, was arrested in January 2023 following allegations of sexual assault against a woman within an upscale Barcelona nightclub in the early hours of December 31, 2022. Alves had remained in custody pending trial in Spain, with repeated bail requests denied by the judge who deemed him a potential flight risk.

Earlier this month, amidst the three-day trial, Alves changed his story for the fifth time. Initially, he claimed he didn’t know the woman making the allegations against him. Then, when faced with biological evidence, he changed his story — stating that he and the woman engaged in consensual oral sex. In April of last year, following additional biological testing, Alves conceded for the first time to having intercourse with the woman.

According to the woman’s account to state prosecutors, she initially danced with Alves and accompanied him willingly to the bathroom. However, when she expressed a desire to leave, he allegedly restrained her. She further alleged that he physically assaulted her by slapping, verbally abused her, and forced her into non-consensual sexual intercourse.

Alves denied the woman’s account, “We were both enjoying ourselves,” Alves said, while repeatedly saying that the woman never asked to leave or made any indication that she did not want to have sexual relations with him. He also denied having slapped or insulted her.

A forensic psychologist, upon evaluating the woman, testified that she exhibited symptoms consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder. However, this conclusion was challenged by an external expert summoned by the defense.

Alves’ playing career comes to an end after appearing in three World Cups and winning an Olympic gold medal and two Copa Americas.