Dani Alves held for alleged sexual assault

Dani Alves, one of soccer's most successful and charismatic players, has been arrested after being accused of sexually assaulting a woman in Spain.

The veteran Brazilian right back, who plays for Mexican club Pumas, was taken to a prison near Barcelona in a police van after a judge denied him bail after hearing his testimony.

The alleged assault took place on December 31 at an exclusive nightclub in downtown Barcelona, police told The Associated Press.

Alves has denied any wrongdoing but his club Pumas UNAM have decided to terminate his contract.

The club confirmed on Friday, via a short statement on their website and a media briefing from club president Leopoldo Silva, they had parted ways with Alves.

Alves joined the Mexican side in 2022 after his second spell at Barca came to an end.

The defender was taken into custody after he answered a police summons while in Spain.

He was then escorted in a police car to the courthouse. State prosecutors had asked for him to be held without bail, and a judge agreed after charging him with sexual assault following several hours of testimony from him, the alleged victim and a witness, the court said.

Unless that decision is reversed on appeal, Alves will remain in custody until trial at a still unspecified date.

A charge of sexual assault in Spain can mean anything from unsolicited and unwanted sexual groping to rape.

Police and the court's press office said they could not give any details on the case. Rape can be subject to prison terms of up to 15 years under a new law passed last year.

Alves denied the allegations last week in a video he sent to Spanish television channel Antena 3. While acknowledging he had gone dancing at the club on the night of the alleged assault, he said he did not know the woman and was always "respectful" of others.

"I was there having a good time with other people," Alves said. "Everyone who knows me knows that I like dancing. I was having a good time, but I never invaded the personal space of anyone. I always am respectful."

The 39-year-old Alves is one of soccer's most successful players, winning major titles with several elite clubs, including Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain, over his long career. He also helped Brazil win two Copa America trophies and an Olympic gold medal at age 38.

Known for his creative play on the field, and a sharp wit and love of fashion off it, the right back has been one of soccer's leading personalities for more than a decade.

The defender was a key part of Barcelona's golden years playing between 2008-16 on the team's right flank behind Lionel Messi.

He won the Champions League three times with the Catalan club, whom he briefly rejoined last season. He played at his third World Cup, the only major title he's not won, in December.