Robinho sentenced to nine years in prison for sexual assault

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A statement posted on his official Instagram account also says: "'We would like to clarify that he has already defended himself against the accusations, affirming that he did not participate in the episode", said a statement posted on Robinho's Instagram feed.

Robinho, 33, who now plays with Atlético Mineiro in Brazil, pleaded not guilty via his lawyer and did not appear at any of the court hearings in northern Italy.

Former Real Madrid, Manchester City and AC Milan star Robinho has been sentenced to a nine-year prison term after being found guilty of sexual assault, according to reports in Italy.

His transfer to City, for £32.5m, made him the most expensive player in British football, but after two years Robinho was sold to AC Milan for roughly £15m.

Though he has been found guilty, the Italian justice system allows for several levels of appeal, which means the verdict is essentially put on hold. He is now with Atletico Mineiro and made his last appearance for the national team against Colombia in January. Brazil does not extradite its own citizens when they are sentenced in other countries.

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It added that "all legal steps" were "already being taken regarding this decision".

Robinho, 33, started his career with Santos, and as a teenager helped the Peixe to their first Serie A title for 20 years.

He has made 100 worldwide appearances for Brazil.

Robinho played over 40 games for Manchester City between 2008 and 2010 after signing from Real Madrid.

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