Dani Alves sentenced to four and a half years in jail over sexual assault

The former Barcelona and Brazil footballer Dani Alves has been sentenced to four years and six months for the rape of a 23-year-old woman in a Barcelona nightclub in December 2022.

A written statement from the Audiencia Nacional in Barcelona asserts that the victim did not consent to sex with Alves and that evidence presented to the court, in addition to the victim’s statement, proved that she had been raped. Alves denied wrongdoing and his lawyer, Inés Guardiola, has said they will appeal.

The prosecution had demanded a nine-year sentence and the victim’s legal team asked for 12. Alves’s sentence is barely more than the minimum of four years and because he has completed a quarter of his sentence on remand, he could soon be released on licence.

The 40-year-old was ordered to pay €9,000 (£7,700) for physical damage to the victim and offered to pay compensation of €150,000, which the court considered an attenuating circumstance when passing sentence. He will be under legal supervision for a further five years as well as having a restraining order banning him from contact with the victim for nine years and six months.

The ruling suggests a shift away from the “victimization of the victim” which hitherto has put the burden of proof regarding consent, or the lack thereof, on the victim. Legislation from 2022 states that “proof of the existence of sexual aggression is not dependent on there being physical injuries nor on the victim putting up a heroic opposition to having sexual relations”.

Spain’s vice president, Yolanda Díaz, said she hoped the sentence would set an example. “This is over in our country, enough of machismo and sexual aggression that we women suffer in all walks of life,” she said.

Tània Verge, the Catalan equality minister, described the Alves case as “a milestone”. “It shows that nightclubs’ protocols against sexual violence and training their personnel for an immediate response are crucial,” she said. “It showcases that trials can proceed with full protection for victims and putting sexual consent at the centre. And it demonstrates that, regardless of how rich, famous and powerful the perpetrators are, regardless of their attempts to discredit victims, impunity is over.”

Alves met the woman in the VIP area of Sutton nightclub in Barcelona on 30 December 2022. After buying her and her friends a drink, he beckoned her to join him in a bathroom, the only area of the club not covered by cameras.

Once inside, the victim said he demanded oral sex and when she refused, he raped her. Alves initially denied meeting the woman, then changed his story several times when presented with forensic and video evidence.

Alves won dozens of titles with clubs including Sevilla, Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain and played 126 times for Brazil, including at three World Cups. He helped Brazil to win two Copa Américas and an Olympic gold medal.

The defender played for Barcelona from 2008-16, briefly rejoined the club in 2022 and still has a residence near the city. Alves was with the Mexican club Pumas when arrested and immediately had his contract terminated.


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