In a case that has captured global attention, former international football star Dani Alves stands trial for sexual assault, a situation that has cast a shadow over his illustrious career. On the second day of proceedings in a Barcelona courtroom, Alves, handcuffed and silent, listened to witness testimonies detailing the events of the night in question, December 31, 2022, at a high-end Barcelona nightclub.
The accusations against Alves are grave. He allegedly assaulted a woman in the nightclub’s bathroom, an act he vehemently denies, claiming the encounter was consensual. The legal stakes are high, with state prosecutors seeking a nine-year prison sentence and the accuser’s lawyers aiming for twelve years if Alves is found guilty.
The trial, which commenced on Monday and is slated for three days, unfolded with the accuser’s testimony behind closed doors, a measure taken by the court to protect her identity, especially after a video purportedly revealing her identity circulated on social media.
According to the accuser, the incident occurred after she met Alves in the nightclub’s VIP area. She alleges that Alves led her into a private bathroom, where he assaulted her. Friends and relatives of the accuser corroborate her account, noting her distressed state immediately after the incident, asserting that Alves “hurt her badly.”
Police testimony presented on Tuesday added weight to the accuser’s claims, with officers recounting the victim’s initial reluctance to report the incident for fear of disbelief. The response from the nightclub manager, who followed a sexual assault protocol by advising the woman and contacting the police, further emphasized the seriousness of the allegations.
Alves, in his defense, has experienced shifts in his narrative, initially denying any encounter with the woman, later denying sexual contact, and eventually admitting to a consensual sexual act, a claim aimed at preserving his marriage, according to Alves.
The trial is not just a personal ordeal for Alves but also a significant test for Spain’s recently overhauled sex crime legislation, known as the “only yes means yes” law. This law, a response to public outcry over a previous gang-rape case, centers consent in the legal definition of sexual crimes, stating unequivocally that silence or passivity does not constitute consent.
Dani Alves, known for his triumphs with clubs like Barcelona, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, and his national team successes with Brazil, now faces a battle off the field that could tarnish his legacy.