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

Former Brazil and Barcelona footballer Dani Alves has been sentenced to four and a half years in prison after being found guilty of sexual assault.

Catalonia's top court found him guilty of sexually assaulting a woman at an upscale Barcelona nightclub early on New Years Eve in 2022. The victim said Alves raped her in a bathroom.

Alves was also ordered to pay 150,000 euros (£128,000) to the victim by the court.

The 40-year-old former right-back was arrested in January 2023. He has been detained since then and had requests for bail denied as the court considered him a flight risk.

The Brazilian Federal Constitution guarantees that no Brazilian citizen can be extradited by the country.

State prosecutors were told by the victim that on the night of the assault, she danced with Alves and willingly entered the nightclub bathroom, but when she later wanted to leave he would not let her.

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

Alves denied any wrongdoing during the trial, telling the court: "I am not that kind of man."

As the case was being investigated, Alves said while in custody that he did not have any sexual contact with her.

He later admitted to having sexual relations with the woman but said that they were consensual. He said he had been trying to save his marriage by not admitting to the encounter initially.

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

State prosecutors had sought a nine-year prison sentence for Alves, while the victim's lawyers wanted 12 years.

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

The state prosecutor's office said it would study the verdict and then consider whether or not to appeal against the court's decision.

In October 2022, Spain passed new legislation - dubbed the "only yes means yes" law - making sexual consent central in determining assault cases in a bid to define all non-consensual sex as rape.