Brazil coach: Thoughts and prayers with victims of Alves, Robinho

Brazil coach Dorival Junior said Friday that his thoughts and prayers were with the victims and their families following the recent rape convictions of former national team stars Dani Alves and Robinho.

Robinho, 40, began a nine-year prison sentence in his native Brazil on Thursday more than 10 years after he was first accused of raping a woman in Italy.

Alves, 40, was convicted by a Spanish court of sexually assaulting a woman in Barcelona and was handed a sentence of 4½ years, which he has appealed.

"As the coach of the national team, I have an obligation to speak out," Dorival said in a news conference ahead of Brazil's friendly with England on Saturday. "First, I think it's a very delicate situation. Robinho was my player [at Santos in 2010], a fantastic person, such a professional ... I didn't have the opportunity to work with Daniel [Alves], but we all know his story within football. It's a difficult time for us to express any and all situations.

"First, I think about the families of the people involved. Especially the victims involved in these episodes, which happen in our country and around the world and which, suddenly, are not addressed. They are hushed up because people don't have a voice. If there was a type of crime that was proven, it must be penalized.

"As much as it hurts my heart to talk about this, about a person with whom I had an exceptional relationship, I care much more for the victims, for the families, as well as for their families too. I know how painful it must have been for each of them to go through a moment like this," he added.

"I don't wish this on anyone, I feel for everything they will go through from then on in their lives, everyone who is involved, what I can do is help them with prayers, nothing more."

Later on Friday, Brazil's soccer federation president Ednaldo Rodrigues said the rape convictions of Dani Alves and Robinho end "one of the most nefarious chapters" in the country's sports history.

"The yellow shirt that Brazilian athletes wear on the pitch is much more than a jersey. Just like soccer to Brazil is more than a sport. Those who wear it need to defend the feelings and values of a whole country they represent," Rodrigues said in a statement.

"It is embarrassing that an athlete feels comfortable to commit such perversity as if all he achieved through sport will stop him from being punished."

Rodrigues said that the executives at governing body CBF feel sorry for "the victims of the brutal crimes committed by the former footballers."

Palmeiras president Leila Pereira, who is heading Brazil's team delegation for the upcoming friendlies against England and Spain, spoke of her outrage after a court granted Alves release on bail on Wednesday.

"Nobody says anything, but I, as a woman here at the head of the Brazilian team's delegation, have to take a stance on the cases of Robinho and Daniel Alves," Pereira said. "This is a slap in the face to all of us women, especially the case of Daniel Alves, who paid for his freedom.

"I think it's important for me to take a stand. Each case of impunity is the seed of the next crime."

Alves has so far failed to come up with the €1 million ($1.08m) bail payment required for his conditional release.

Brazil women national team players Kerolin and Ary Borges applauded Pereira.

"LEILA Pereira, giant, as a WOMAN she positioned herself and I say more, she showed how people who have a voice, space, influence could position themselves!

"How long will women continue to suffer these and other types of crimes and the people who commit them go unharmed?!?!" Kerolin, who plays for the North Carolina Courage in the NWSL, wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Borges, of Racing Louisville, added: "Leila was huge in what she said, but she showed that this is what people in positions of impact need to do. Leila AS A WOMAN positions herself, but how long will only women continue exposing themselves, alone in repudiating situations like this, or in this case, CRIMES like these?!?"

Speaking before his coach, Brazil captain Danilo said it was necessary to speak out in support of women.

"We, as top-level athletes, have to understand the place we occupy, what our role is, understand that we have the power to influence positively or negatively," the Juventus defender said.

"Our role is playing football, representing our clubs and our national team, but it is also serving as an example of behaviour off the field for young people.

"It is important to start this awareness and have this conversation with young people," Danilo continued. "So that a more genuine and reflective thought is formed, putting oneself in women's shoes in a more empathetic way. And that women can have more freedom to occupy the places they deserve to occupy."