Disgraced footballer Dani Alves was today sentenced to four and a half years in prison after being found guilty of raping a woman in a Spanish nightclub.
The former Barcelona star, who has suffered a catastrophic fall from grace over the past two years, learned his fate this morning after being driven in a police van to the Barcelona court where he stood trial earlier this month.
Throughout his trial, he faced a bitter separation from his wife, 30-year-old model Joana Sanz.
After initially supporting her then-husband, their relationship quickly deteriorated and ended with the runway model posting a triumphant selfie in the moments following her four-and-a-half-year sentence behind bars.
Here, MailOnline looks at the troubled relationship between Alves and Sanz, and how it quickly fell apart as the convicted rapist found himself in more and more legal trouble.
Joana Sanz (in the photo) today publishes a selfie moments after her husband was sentenced to four and a half years in prison
Two days after the assault in the bathrooms at Sutton, a luxury nightclub in Barcelona, which occurred on December 31, 2022, Alves flew back to Mexico to play for his club.
Joana was at her lowest point when her husband was detained in Barcelona after traveling back to the city from Mexico on January 20, 2023. The model’s mother had died just a week earlier, and Alves, fired by his club, had been hospitalized. custody without bail.
But Sanz, who married Alves in Formentera, off Ibiza, in 2017 and gave birth to their two children, Daniel and Victoria, publicly supported her then-husband and posted a photo of them holding hands with the message ” Together” in English.
She wrote in the caption of the post: ‘My mother died a week ago and I have only just begun to realize that she is no longer with me to be tormented by my husband’s situation.
“I have lost the only two pillars of my life.”
She also told local media at the time that her husband had never disrespected her and that she had seen several women “trying it on” with him in front of her.
Joana initially called him a “pillar of my life” after he was arrested and accused of rape.
It is a mystery whether his public stance of solidarity coincided behind the scenes at the time.
It was previously reported that Joanna, who has modeled for the likes of Jimmy Choo, YSL and L’Oriel since she was 17, was not interested in the idea of marriage and rejected two of Alves’ proposals.
After weeks of speculation about the state of her marriage, she apparently confirmed the breakup with the imprisoned footballer with a heartbreaking letter published on March 16, 2023 in which she confessed that it would take “years to erase the way he looks at me.” My memory.’
Heading the letter, written in his native Spanish – ‘in my own handwriting’ – he said: ‘I would love for the lines written here to be about love and happiness, but that is not the case.
‘These have been horrible months, not the hardest of my life, because I have faced many storms, but very dark and painful.
‘The feeling of abandonment and loneliness knocks on my door again. Thousands of “whys” without answers. I chose as a life partner a person who in my eyes was perfect.
She seemingly confirmed the split with the jailed footballer with a heartbreaking letter.
Ms Sanz leaves court after giving evidence in which she said Alves “smelled of alcohol” when he arrived at her home on the outskirts of Barcelona early in the morning.
“He was always there when I needed him most, he always supported me in everything, he always pushed me to grow, always loving, attentive… It is very difficult for me to accept that this person can break me into a thousand pieces.” .
‘I think it’s going to take me years to erase from my memory the way he looked at me, that way he had of looking at me as if I were the most incredible thing in the world and damn, yes, I’m incredible. ‘
And he continued: ‘I am incredible because I am hard-working, independent, intelligent, detail-oriented, loving, fun, faithful and human, and so human that despite the damage he has caused me, I am still here by his side.
‘I am still and will continue to be, but in a different way.
“I love him and I will always love him. Whoever says that love is forgotten is either deceived or did not truly love. But I love myself, I respect myself and I value myself much more.
‘Forgiving relieves, that’s why I maintain the magic and close a stage of my life that began on 5/18/15. I am grateful for the opportunities and learnings that life offers me, no matter how difficult they may be. “Here is a strong woman moving into the next stage of her life.”
Alves changed his story, initially stating that he had never met his accuser before.
Alves and San pose for photographs during The Best FIFA Football Awards 2018
Her emotional outpouring was seen at the time in Spain as a clear sign that she had decided to end her relationship with Alves, although she did not name him in the letter or mention the word divorce.
In the months following this letter, published in March 2023, the world heard little from the disgraced footballer, save for multiple failed bail applications.
Judges at the Barcelona High Court were concerned that, upon his release, he would escape justice and accountability by flying to Brazil, a nation of which he is a citizen, and avoiding extradition.
Brazil does not extradite its own citizens when they are sentenced in other countries.
Alves arguably had a history of being slippery. At first, he claimed that he had never met the woman he sexually assaulted.
But later, he changed his story and claimed that although he met her, his encounter with her was completely consensual and that no assault occurred.
This was the first time he admitted to cheating on his wife. He told Spanish media in June 2023: “The only person I have to apologize to is my wife, Joana Sanz,” he said.
June 2023 was the first time he publicly apologized for cheating on his wife
She was seen holding the hand of Alves’ mother, Lucía.
Joana San, Alves’ wife, went to the Barcelona courtroom to testify.
‘The woman I married eight years ago, with whom I am still married and with whom I hope to continue living my entire life.
‘I have already apologized to her personally here in prison, but I must do it publicly, because the story is public, the offense is public and she deserves a public apology.
‘These have been, are being and will be very hard days for her. I appreciate everything she is doing for me. Her role is not easy. I love her and during this time in prison I have thought a lot about our marriage.
‘I am sure that I was not wrong in choosing Joana as my wife. Although maybe she did make a mistake with me.
Earlier this month, speculation about the status of Alves and Sanz’s relationship spiraled out of control, after she was seen accompanying him to court at the start of his three-day rape trial, which began on February 5.
Although it initially seemed like she was there to support him, she ended up testifying at his trial, telling the judge at the time that she reeked of alcohol when she returned home the night of the attack.
And today, moments after he was sentenced to four and a half years behind bars, she posted a triumphant selfie for her Instagram followers.
Despite the uncertainty in her life, with a husband behind bars and two children to raise alone, the model was seen today sitting on a woven seat with a satisfied smile on her face.