Former Football Star Dani Alves Convicted of Sexual Assault, Faces 4½ Years in Prison

Former Brazilian football star Dani Alves, renowned for his illustrious career with top clubs and achievements with the Brazilian national team, has been convicted of sexual assault against a 23-year-old woman in a Barcelona nightclub on December 31, 2022. The Barcelona Provincial Court sentenced Alves, one of the most successful football players of his generation, to four years and six months in prison and ordered him to pay 150,000 euros ($162,990) in compensation to the victim.

Throughout the trial, Alves consistently denied any wrongdoing, asserting that he was not “that kind of man.” However, a three-judge panel at the Barcelona Provincial Court concluded that the victim did not consent to the sexual encounter, highlighting evidence presented during the trial that supported the assertion of sexual assault.

The court’s decision is significant within the context of Spain’s legal landscape, marking one of the first major sex crime trials since the country revamped its legislation in 2022. The legislation, commonly known as the “only yes means yes” law, prioritizes explicit consent, reflecting a broader societal shift towards placing consent at the center of defining sex crimes. Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister, Yolanda Díaz, expressed hope that the verdict would serve as an exemplary measure against sexist behaviors.

Despite Alves’ claims of innocence, the court sentenced him to four and a half years in prison and imposed a nine and a half year restraining order, prohibiting him from approaching the victim’s home or workplace and from any communication with her. Additionally, Alves will be under legal supervision for five years upon release.

The severity of the charges and the court’s consideration of Alves’ compensation offer to the victim as a mitigating factor raise questions about the potential influence of financial resources on legal outcomes. The victim’s legal team expressed concerns about the fairness of lighter sentences for defendants with financial means.

Alves, who has been in jail since his arrest in January 2023, plans to appeal the verdict. The court’s decision marks a significant moment in the player’s legacy, shattering his reputation as one of soccer’s most successful players. Alves, who won numerous titles with elite clubs such as Barcelona, Juventus, and Paris Saint-Germain, now faces not only the legal consequences of his actions but also potential damage to his legacy both on and off the field.

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