It turns out that Dani Alves, who appeared to be a decent person, has been revealed to not be one. This information is brought to us by Jonathan Wilson.

Estimated read time 4 min read


The initial feeling should be one of compassion towards the victim, a young woman who was sexually assaulted by Dani Alves in a nightclub bathroom in Barcelona on the early morning of December 31, 2022. The specifics of the incident, as well as the verdict delivered in legal jargon, are disturbing: “the victim was subjected to violence in order to engage in sexual activity.”

The victim went through a horrifying experience, facing a shocking attack and likely enduring challenges in the months that have passed and will continue to face in the future. However, due to Alves’s fame, there is a strange sense that we “know” celebrities, leading to feelings of shock and betrayal.

How can we relive the iconic moments of Barcelona’s greatness without being reminded of the player he became? This sentiment will endure beyond the four and a half year sentence that Alves has received, as his lawyer plans to appeal. Alves played a crucial role in Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona team, known for his technical prowess, explosive play, and unique style. It’s no surprise that Lionel Messi referred to him as the best full-back in the world.

We are not familiar with them personally. We observe football players in action, observe their behavior, analyze their words, and imagine them to be how we want them to be. Football is like a dramatic TV series, and we create our own characters such as villains, brave warriors, and skilled dribblers. There is little room for subtlety: players and managers are often portrayed as either heroes or villains, with little depth. The reason this situation has been so surprising is that Dani Alves, who is seen as one of the “good guys” by those of us who watch football, has been involved in this case.

It is undeniable that he was an exceptional soccer player. According to the legend, when he was six years old and playing as a winger, his father felt he did not score enough goals and switched him to right-back. Despite this change, he continued to play like a winger. There were doubts about his defensive abilities, but after joining Barcelona, a team known for their possession skills, it became less of a concern. He may not have been the ideal right-back, but for that team, he was the perfect fit. His attacks from the outside provided cover for Messi to make runs inside, and his deep runs were crucial in breaking through tight defenses.

Dani Alves in court during his trial.View image in fullscreen

His collection of accolades is impressive: he earned 43 trophies throughout his career – including league championships in Spain, Italy, and France, three Champions League titles, two Europa League titles, regional trophies in Brazil, and two Copa América wins – which, depending on how you count, makes him either the most successful player of all time or second only to Messi. However, it was not just his exceptional skill that set him apart. He played with a sense of adventure and joy that was evident to all. It was common to see him carrying a drum or tambourine whenever he exited the Brazil team bus. In interviews, two things consistently stood out: his enthusiastic energy and his contagious laughter. He often referred to himself as “good crazy” and was aptly nicknamed “a footballing Sonic the Hedgehog” by Sid Lowe.

He had a love for both the game and life, evident in his spirited and competitive style of play. Despite some concerns about his impact on team morale during his time at Barcelona, he remained a popular figure. He represented the ideal image of a Brazilian full-back, embodying the qualities of past greats like Nílton Santos, Júnior, Cafú, and Roberto Carlos. His fortunate timing allowed him to thrive in a time where full-backs were expected to contribute to both attacking and defending.

Dani Alves after winning La Liga in 2015 – one of 43 trophies he accumulated.

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We had hoped to believe that, but it is disheartening to discover that, while there may have been some truth to that perception, there was also a darker side to Alves. According to the judgment, he “grabbed the complainant, threw her to the floor” and raped her.

“Display your style of play and I can determine your true identity,” quoted Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano. This statement holds some truth as certain traits are exposed on the field. Will you fearlessly put yourself in risky situations? Can you overcome challenges? Are you a team player or solely focused on personal interests? How far are you willing to bend the rules for your benefit? However, this only reveals a portion of one’s character, as there is a complex and often unpleasant world beyond the boundaries of football.

We have no true understanding of players.


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