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Robinho waits to learn if he will serve a nine-year rape sentence in Brazil

SÃO PAULO: Brazil’s justice system will determine whether former Manchester City and Real Madrid striker Robinho will serve his nine-year rape sentence, issued by an Italian court, in his home country. The Brazilian Superior Court of Justice (STJ) will review Italy’s request to enforce the prison sentence imposed in 2017 and confirmed in 2022.

“I hope to have a voice here in Brazil that I didn’t have there,” Robinho, who maintains his innocence, said in an interview with Brazilian network TV Record on Sunday. Robson de Souza, commonly known as “Robinho,” remains free despite his conviction for participating in the gang rape of a young Albanian woman at a Milan nightclub in 2013.

Robinho, a former Brazil international, was playing for AC Milan at the time. Although his sentence was upheld by Italy’s highest court and an international arrest warrant was issued, Brazil, which does not extradite its citizens, was asked to have Robinho serve his sentence at home.

On Sunday, Robinho accused the Italian justice system of “racism.” “It was consensual,” he told TV Record. “I never denied it. I could have because my DNA wasn’t there, but I’m not a liar. “I played for four years in Italy and got tired of seeing stories about racism. The same people who do nothing about racism, which I repudiate, are the ones who condemned me.”

If the ruling is unfavorable, the 40-year-old could remain free pending an appeal to Brazil’s Supreme Court. Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva expressed hope that Robinho could serve his sentence in Brazil.

‘Unprecedented case’

According to Brazilian media, magistrates are expected to approve Italy’s request. “Approval is not common because the law allowing it is relatively recent. It would be an unprecedented case in Brazil,” lawyer Leonardo Pantaleao told AFP.

Meanwhile, Robinho’s case, along with that of former Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain defender Dani Alves, has drawn criticism for the failure of football authorities in Brazil to condemn violence against women. In February, Alves was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for raping a woman in a nightclub in Barcelona.

The case was met with silence from the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF), the player’s former clubs, and former teammates. Former Brazil coach Tite said he could not “make a judgement without having all the facts and truthful information” about the case.

For Robinho, it marks a dramatic downfall. Beginning his career at Santos, Robinho was hailed as the successor to Brazil’s golden generation. He moved to Real Madrid in 2005, playing alongside Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, and David Beckham. Despite winning titles, Robinho’s career was marred by controversy, including a brief detention in England in 2009 for alleged sexual assault.

He returned to Santos in 2020, but the deal was suspended after public pressure, leading to the end of his career.

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