Brazilian soccer star Dani Alves is set to give testimony Wednesday before a Barcelona court during the last day of his trial for alleged sexual assault of a young woman.
The 40-year-old Alves will have his chance to speak after spending two days listening to testimony from the alleged victim, witnesses and police officers.
Alves is accused of sexually assaulting the woman in the bathroom of an upscale Barcelona nightclub early in the morning of December 31, 2022.
He has denied any wrongdoing.
State prosecutors are seeking a nine-year prison sentence for Alves if convicted while the lawyers representing his accuser want 12 years.
The three-day trial concludes Wednesday. A verdict normally takes weeks to be delivered.
His accuser testified on Monday behind closed doors on order of the court. State prosecutors asked for the court to take extra measures to protect her identity after a video circulated on social media last month that allegedly identified the woman.
In testimony previously given to state prosecutors last year, the woman said she met Alves in a VIP area of the Sutton nightclub after midnight where she had gone with a friend and a cousin. She said she accompanied Alves into a private bathroom where he allegedly slapped her, used insulting language and raped her.
Alves has said before the trial that the sex was consensual.
A friend and cousin of the alleged victim who went dancing with her that night told the three-judge panel that after she exited the bathroom she was distraught and told them Alves “hurt her badly” by forcing her to have intercourse without her consent.
Police officers who attended to the alleged victim testified she was greatly shaken and told them she had been sexually assaulted by Alves. The officers said she had to overcome her fears that “nobody would believe her” before she formally accused Alves.
Alves’ friend who was with him that night said the soccer player drank wine and whiskey before going to the nightclub. According to his friend, Alves and the alleged victim danced together and showed “chemistry” before going into the bathroom. He said he hadn’t noticed anything wrong with the woman afterward.
Alves has been in pre-trial jail since being detained on January 20, 2023. His requests for bail were denied because the court considered him a flight risk, despite his offer to hand over his passport and wear a tracking device. Brazil does not extradite its own citizens when they are sentenced in other countries.
Alves modified his defense several times during the investigative phase while in custody.
At first, he denied having ever seen the woman when he went dancing on the night in question. Upon his arrest, he then denied any sexual contact with her, only to later admit to a sexual encounter that he said was consented to by the woman. He said he had been trying to save his marriage by not admitting to the sexual encounter initially.
This is the first high-profile sex crime trial 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. The legislation popularly known as the “only yes means yes” law defines consent as an explicit expression of a person’s will, making it clear that silence or passivity do not equal consent.
Under the law, the crime of sexual assault takes in a wide array of crimes from online abuse and groping to rape, each with different punishments. Rape can carry a maximum sentence of 15 years.
Alves won major 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’s not won, in 2022.
Alves’ contract with Mexican club Pumas was terminated immediately after his arrest.