A Spanish court on Thursday sentenced former Brazil international Dani Alves to four and a half years in prison after finding him guilty of raping a young woman at a Barcelona nightclub in December 2022.

It also ordered the three-time Champions League winner to five years’ probation after he serves his jail term, and demanded he pay 150,000 euros ($162,000) in compensation to the victim.

“The victim did not consent and there is evidence that, beyond the complainant’s testimony, permits the rape to be considered proven,” the Barcelona court wrote in a statement.

“The court considers as proven the fact that the defendant abruptly grabbed the complainant, threw her to the ground and penetrated her vaginally, preventing her from moving, while the complainant said no and wanted to leave.”

Prosecutors had called for a nine-year jail sentence for the 40-year-old followed by 10 years of probation.

Alves, who maintains the sex with the woman was consensual, will appeal the ruling, his lawyer told reporters outside the court.

One of the world’s most decorated footballers who played for Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain during a storied career, Alves went on trial earlier this month on charges of raping a woman at the Sutton nightclub in the early hours of December 31, 2022.

His accuser — who testified behind a screen to protect her identity — said Alves had violently forced her to have sex in a private bathroom of the nightclub despite her begging him to let her go, causing her “anguish and terror”, according to prosecutors.

Police officers who attended the woman told the court about the victim’s state of agitation and “shock” when they arrived at the nightclub, as well as her anxiety that “nobody would believe her” if she filed a complaint.

‘She could have left’

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

Alves, who was present in court throughout his three-day trial, testified that his sexual encounter with the woman was consensual and denied hitting her and grabbing her hair.

“I am not that type of man, I am not violent,” he told the court after his defence lawyer asked if he had forced her to have sex.

“If she wanted to leave, she could have left, she was not obligated to be there,” he added.

But the court ruled that the injuries found on the victim’s knees were “the result of the violence used by Mr. Alves”, and said her testimony had been “consistent” throughout the proceedings.

Spain’s leftist government in 2022 passed new legislation — dubbed the “only yes means yes” law — that strengthens the country’s penal code against rape by requiring explicit consent for sex acts, a move long demanded by assault survivors and women’s rights groups.

No ‘carte blanche’

The player’s defence had argued that the young woman had danced “glued” to him at the nightclub, and there was “sexual tension” between the two.

But the court ruled that “these attitudes… do not mean giving ‘carte blanche’ to… a subsequent aggression”.

Alves initially denied knowing the woman in a TV interview but later acknowledged having sex with her, saying it was consensual.

He told La Vanguardia newspaper in June that he had lied because he was afraid his wife would leave him.

The player has been in detention since he was arrested in Barcelona in January 2023. His requests to be released on bail have been repeatedly denied by the courts which considered him a flight risk.

Brazil does not extradite its own citizens when they are sentenced in other countries.

Alves is widely considered one of the greatest defenders of all time, winning 42 trophies during a highly successful career.

The peak of his career was with Barcelona between 2008 and 2016 when he won 23 trophies. At the time of his arrest, he was contracted to Mexican club Pumas UNAM. He was sacked soon after being detained.

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