Dani Alves granted €1m bail after sexual assault conviction

Former Brazil footballer Dani Alves has been granted release on bail for €1 million ($1.1m) upon appeal, a court in Barcelona, Spain, announced on Wednesday.

Alves, 40, was convicted of sexual assault last month and sentenced to 4½ years in prison, of which he had already served over a year.

His lawyer, Inés Guardiola, fought the ruling and, following a hearing on Tuesday, Alves has been released pending a final resolution in the appeal.

Alves’ release is also dependent on handing in his Spanish and his Brazilian passports, remaining in Spain and agreeing to weekly court check-ins.

He also must adhere to a restraining order that prevents him from going within 1,000 metres of his victim, her home, her place of work or any other place she is known to frequent.

All parties involved — the defence, the victim’s legal team and the prosecution — have three days to appeal Wednesday’s ruling.

On Tuesday, Guardiola argued that there was no risk of Alves fleeing the country or destroying evidence, while the ex-Barcelona player appeared via video link and insisted he was not a flight risk and was prepared to hand in his passports.

The prosecution, meanwhile, demanded a sentence of nine years, complaining that February’s 4½ year-conviction was not sufficient punishment for the crime committed.

Alves was found guilty of sexually assaulting a woman in a Barcelona nightclub in 2022 following a 13-month investigation — during which time Alves remained in preventative pretrial prison — and a three-day trial last month.

Over the course of the trial, evidence was heard from the victim’s friend and cousin, Alves’ friend who he was with on the night, police officers who attended to the woman and a forensic psychologist who examined her.

Police said the victim was greatly shaken and told them she had been sexually assaulted by Alves, while the psychologist testified that she was suffering from post-traumatic symptoms, a conclusion that was disputed by an outside expert called by the defence.

Meanwhile, Alves always maintained his innocence, but changed his story five times, eventually saying he did have sex with the victim but that he lied to hide his infidelity to his wife. He later added that he was drunk.

The Alves case was the first high-profile sex crime since Spain overhauled its legislation in 2022 to make consent central to defining a sex crime in response to an swell of protests after a gang-rape case during the San Fermin bull-running festival in Pamplona in 2016.

The legislation, commonly 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.

The law, however, initially led to reduced sentences for hundreds of sex offenders because it set up lower minimum sentences, like the one applied to Alves, before being reformed.

Throughout a career that lasted over 20 years, Alves won major titles with clubs including Barça, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain. He also won Copa América with Brazil twice and an Olympic gold medal at the age of 38.

He played at his third World Cup, the only major title he has not won, in 2022.

He played for Barça from 2008 to 2016 and briefly rejoined the club for a second spell in 2022 before moving to Mexico with Pumas.

Alves’ contract with the Mexican club was terminated immediately following his arrest.