Soccer star Dani Alves was arrested Friday in Spain on sexual assault charges, according to multiple reports.
The 39-year-old, who had been playing for Mexican club side Pumas UNAM and formerly played internationally for Brazil as well as various elite European clubs domestically, is accused of inappropriately touching a woman in a Barcelona nightclub in December.
A Spanish judge ordered Alves to be held without bail. Alves had returned to Spain from Mexico this week to face the charges and appeared in court on Friday after being brought into custody. The alleged victim testified on Friday that Alves groped and raped her on Dec. 30 at nightclub Sutton, per ESPN. In Spain, a sexual assault charge can range from inappropriate touching to rape.
Pumas UNAM parted ways with Alves after learning of the accusation.
“Club Universidad makes the decision to terminate the contract with Dani Alves with just cause,” team president Leopoldo Silva said in a statement. “This is an institution that promotes respect and the correct, dignified and professional behavior of its male and female players both on and off the field because they are role models in Mexico and throughout the world. We cannot permit any conduct that would damage our philosophy.”
After emerging with Spanish club side Sevilla, Alves starred as a defender on Barcelona’s iconic teams from 2008-2016. He played a pivotal role as the team won the La Liga title six times and the Champions League title three times. He’s largely considered one of the greatest right-backs of all time. With Brazil, Alves was a central figure on three World Cup teams in what is the second-most appearances ever for the nation.
After Barcelona, Alves played one season with Italian power Juventus, where he won Serie A, and two seasons with top French side Paris Saint-Germain, where he won Ligue 1 twice. He then played for Sao Paulo in his native Brazil for three seasons before returning to Barcelona for a year. He then joined PUMAS UNAM for this season.
Alves denies any wrongdoing.
“I would like to deny everything, first,” Alves told Spanish TV channel Antena 3. “I was there, in that location, with more people, having a good time. Everybody knows that I love to dance. Having a good time, but without invading the space of others. I’m very sorry, but I don’t know who that young lady is, I don’t know who she is, I’ve never seen her in my life.”
Alves will remain in custody until trial, which does not yet have a date.