Dani Alves says he's innocent in 1st interview since arrest on rape charge
Brazilian defender Dani Alves, who is awaiting trial in Spain for an alleged rape, defended his innocence in an interview published Wednesday, saying he has a "clear conscience."
The 40-year-old was detained in January in Barcelona after being accused of raping a young woman in the bathroom of a nightclub in the city in late December.
The former Barcelona and Paris Saint-German star has been held in custody without bail because the court investigating him felt there was a risk he would try to flee.
"I have a really clear conscience regarding what happened that night in the bathroom of the VIP area of the Sutton nightclub," he told daily newspaper La Vanguardia in his first interview since his arrest.
"What happened and what didn't happen. And what didn't happen is that I forced this woman to do anything that we did," he added.
When the story first broke - and before he was arrested - Alves in a television interview initially denied knowing the woman.
But when questioned by investigators after his arrest, he changed his story, insisting that they had had consensual relations.
In Wednesday's article, he told La Vanguardia that he had lied at first because he was afraid his wife would leave him if he admitted he had been with another woman.
"I fought desperately to save my marriage from my infidelity, without worrying about the consequences that I am paying today."
At the time of the alleged rape, Alves was on holiday in Barcelona after playing for Brazil at the World Cup in Qatar.
A Spanish court last week rejected his request to be released on bail while he waits for his trial, arguing that he was a flight risk.
Alves' La Vanguardia interview dominated television chat shows Wednesday and sparked an angry response from some women's groups.
"Trivialising gender violence, supporting the aggressor, discrediting the victim, causes more harm to her and fuels rape culture," the Spanish government's delegate against gender violence, Victoria Rosell, tweeted.
After his arrest, Alves was sacked by his Mexican club Pumas UNAM.
In a highly successful career, Alves won 42 football titles, including three Champions Leagues with Barcelona and two Copa Americas with Brazil.