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Dani Alves jailed: Brazilian football star sentenced to four years behind bars for sexual assault

Dani Alves jailed: Brazilian football star sentenced to four years behind bars for sexual assault

Brazilian football star Dani Alves has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a young woman and sentenced to four years and six months in prison.

The ruling by a three-judge panel in a Barcelona court on Thursday followed a three-day trial this month.

Alves, who denied any wrongdoing during the trial, was summoned to the courthouse to receive the verdict and sentence. His lawyer, Ines Guardiola, said she will appeal the decision.

The court found Alves, 40, sexually assaulted his victim early in the morning of December 31, 2022, when she said he raped her in a bathroom of an upscale Barcelona nightclub.

State prosecutors had sought a nine-year prison sentence for Alves while the lawyers representing his accuser wanted 12 years.

His defence asked for his acquittal, or if found guilty a one-year sentence plus 50,000 euros (£42,765) compensation for the victim.

Alves has been in jail since being detained on January 20, 2023.

His requests for bail were denied because the court considered him a flight risk. Brazil does not extradite its own citizens when they are sentenced in other countries.

The victim told state prosecutors she danced with Alves and willingly entered the nightclub bathroom, but that later when she wanted to leave he would not let her.

She said he slapped her, insulted her and forced her to have sexual relations against her will.

Alves modified his defence during the investigative phase while in custody, first denying any sexual contact with her before admitting to sexual relations that he said were consensual.

He said he had been trying to save his marriage by not admitting to the encounter initially.

During the trial, his defence focused on trying to show that Alves was drunk when he met the woman.

His conviction shatters Alves' legacy as one of football's most successful players.

Alves won dozens of titles with elite clubs including Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

He also helped Brazil win two Copa Americas and an Olympic gold medal at age 38. He played at his third World Cup, the only major title he has not won, in 2022.

He was with Mexican club Pumas when he was arrested. Pumas terminated his contract immediately.

The Alves case was the first high-profile sex crime since Spain overhauled its legislation in 2022 to make consent, or the lack thereof, central to defining a sex crime in response to an upswell of protests after a gang-rape case during the San Fermin bull-running festival in Pamplona in 2016.