Brazilian soccer superstar Robinho, who plays for Manchester City in the English Premier League, is in the starting lineup for his club’s game tonight against Newcastle. That may not sound all that remarkable, until you learn that dude was having to get bailed out of jail this morning.
Robinho has been accused of sexual assault by an 18-year-old woman stemming from an incident at a nighclub in Leeds on January 14th. Last week, before being charged of anything, he took off from City’s training trip to the Canary Islands and returned home to Brazil for a week, saying he had some sort of family issue. He’s not the first soccer player to be accused of sexual misconduct in England, but if he’s found guilty he would be the first to get in any sort of actual trouble.
It’s a bad break for City, which has been toiling for years in the shadow of its inter-city rivals Manchester United. The £32.5 million signing of Robinho was supposed to represent a step toward challenging United for supremacy in town. Instead, they’re still mediocre, lagging in 12th place in the 20-team league.
Now, they’re dealing with a PR nightmare. There were already rumblings that Robinho would try to leave the team after it failed in a bid to acquire fellow Brazilian Kaka from AC Milan.
The AP (via SI.COM) explains what’s going on with the assault case:
The 25-year-old forward trained at a pre-match session Wednesday morning after he was released on bail late Tuesday following questioning by police in Leeds. The crime is alleged to have taken place when he was partying with teammates at a nightclub in Leeds in the early hours of Jan. 14.
“The club have been liaising with, and assisting, both the player in question and the authorities in relation to the West Yorkshire Police investigation,” Man City said in a statement.
As for the still unexplained trip to Brazil last week, the club says it’s going to treat him like anyone else who’s the most famous and high-paid player on his team (I added that last part):
Manager Mark Hughes plans to fine his star player over the sudden exit. Robinho has scored 12 goals since joining City from Real Madrid in September for a British record transfer fee of ?42.5 million (then $62 million).
“Robinho will be treated in exactly the same manner, given the circumstances, as any other player at Manchester City,” Hughes said Tuesday, discussing his unexplained trip to Brazil. “Everybody knows that - there’s no special case here. Given a similar circumstance with any other player here they would expect to be treated in a similar manner.
“That needs to be made clear.”
As of now, Robinho hasn’t been formally charged with anything. But he did need to be bailed out to get out of custody. Is that normal in England, to have to post bail to leave when you haven’t been charged?
It should be noted that Robinho allegedly asked a security guard for 40 condoms while celebrating a Brazilian win over Ecuador in 2007 in Rio, so he might be the kind of guy who’s looking for some action during his trips to the nightclub even though he has a girlfriend and a son.
In other news, Larry Johnson is thinking he picked the wrong sport to play. If Robinho were an NFL football player, he’d already be suspended for like 4 weeks.