Former soccer star Robinho must serve a nine-year prison sentence in Italy in absentia for gang rape in his home country of Brazil. A court in Brasília decided this on Wednesday and ruled that the punishment must begin “immediately”. The 40-year-old’s lawyer announced an appeal to prevent his imprisonment.

The former Brazilian national soccer player was found guilty by the Italian judiciary in 2017 of raping a woman celebrating her 23rd birthday in a Milan nightclub with five other men in January 2013. At the time, Robinho was playing for AC Milan.

Italy’s Supreme Court confirmed the verdict in January 2022. Robinho denied the allegations and returned to his home country after the incident. Italy issued an international arrest warrant for Robinho. However, Brazil does not extradite its nationals. Italy demanded that the 40-year-old serve his sentence in a home country instead.

In addition to AC Milan, Robinho also played for the top clubs Real Madrid and Manchester City. He scored 28 goals in his 100 games for the Brazilian national team.