BARCELONA (Reuters) - Brazilian soccer player Dani Alves said on Monday he had consensual sex with a woman who has accused him of sexual assault, changing his version of what happened in a Barcelona nightclub in late December.
The 39-year-old, who has been jailed without bail since Jan. 20, appeared before the judge handling the investigation on Monday at his own request, his lawyers said in a statement.
"He assured he didn't initially tell what had happened and denied the sexual contact because his only priority was to save his marriage," the statement said.
Alves told the judge there was immediate interest and sexual tension between him and his accuser. "He said that everything that happened inside the restroom was a free and voluntary act. They made love and (she) didn't say at any time to stop", the statement added.
Alves had previously denied any sexual encounter with the woman who filed a complaint in January about an alleged sexual assault in a restroom at an exclusive Barcelona nightclub.
Two weeks before his arrest in January, Alves said in a video sent to local TV channel Antena 3 that he did not know who the woman was.
In February, the court rejected Alves' demand to be released.
A spokesperson for the Barcelona court where Alves testified on Monday declined to comment.
The lawyer representing the alleged victim and a spokesperson for the prosecutor's body did not respond to a request for comment.
The case has attracted significant attention in Spain, in part because of Alves' prominence but primarily because sexual assault has remained a dominant political theme since a 2016 gang-rape of a teenager during the San Fermin bull-running festival which led to the toughening of sexual violence laws in the country.
In Spain, a claim of rape is investigated under the general accusation of sexual assault and convictions can lead to jail time of between four and 15 years.
Following his arrest, Alves, who has played in the past for teams such as FC Barcelona and Paris-St-Germain, was fired by Mexico's Pumas UNAM and his wife, model Joana Sanz, left him.
(Reporting by Joan Faus and Inti Landauro, Editing by William Maclean)