The girlfriend of Boca Juniors footballer Sebastián Villa has been accused the Colombian star of physical and psychological violence, posting videos of her injured body online to back up her allegations.
Daniela Cortés, Villa's partner, made the allegations as she posted a series of videos and pictures on social media this week, showing wounds she alleges were caused by the 23-year-old midfielder. In one image, blood covers her teeth and lips.
Boca Juniors, in a statement to the press, said that they were working with the authorities and would take "the appropriate measures" if necessary.
Villa, speaking through his lawyers, denied the allegation and said he did not know the reasons for the complaint.
Cortés, who is also Colombian, initially made the allegations via posts on social networks. The images quickly went viral and one of the former footballer's ex-partners later came out in support, alleging Villa had been abusive in a previous relationship, local outlets reported.
Villa recorded his own message denying the allegations. "As a result of what is being seen on social networks, I wanted to tell them that I have my mother, my sisters, my nieces, my cousins; I have women in my family," he said, rejecting allegations of gender violence. "I do not know with what intention this is being published," he added.
On Tuesday, Cortés met with police, who later said in a statement that they had opened an investigation into allegations of "minor injuries and threats." Two days later, the alleged victim met Verónica Pérez, prosecutor of Esteban Echeverría, to give testimony. Cortés spoke for a "long time" according to her lawyer Fernando Burlando. She "gave many details so that the case can be investigated," he added.
'I can't take it anymore'
In her social media posts, Cortés said that it was not the first time she had suffered abuse. She alleged that she and her family had been threatened.
"Unfortunately it's my turn to do this today, because I can't take it anymore!," she wrote in a post on Instagram. "It's been two years of living together, with much suffering, in which I forgave and forgave blows, waiting for him to change and it never happened!"
Cortés said she was in "great pain ... alone and without my family," in a country she did not know.
"I do this out of fear, because this man is seen on social networks or in the press as if he were a wise man who speaks maturely, but in reality he is different. He is an abuser, both physical and psychological, and many people have witnessed it!" she added.
Cortés alleged that Villa called her mother Gloria, back home in Colombia on Monday at noon, and threatened the two of them. Subsequently, she said the Colombian international had punched her in the face with his fist and grabbed her hair.
The young woman allegedly stated that "she has not been the only one" abused by Villa and asked for others to come forward.
The criminal complaint, to which Noticias Argentinas had access, was filed by Cortés before a police station in the Esteban Echeverría partido of Buenos Aires Province.
According to judicial sources, the player has been cautioned and ordered not to return to the home they share and an exclusion order was issued for the private neighbourhood in which the property resides. He has been told not to contact Cortés or any member of her family, either in person or via third parties.
"They had an argument because Villa was trying to get her out of the house, in a state of total vulnerability, because she is not Argentine. She was left on the street in full quarantine due to the pandemic," Burlando told local media, claiming that the footballer had been "taken over by jealousy."
In a press release published on its official website, Boca Juniors, Villa's employers, said “the club is already in contact with the player's lawyers and representatives to dig deeper into the episode and take the corresponding measures."
"From now on, the club is put at the disposal of the police in order to do everything it can to collaborate for the clarification of the event, in accordance with our commitment in matters of human rights and gender issues," the football club said, reaffirming its commitment to "values of equality and respect, considering the clubs as key social actors in the fight that we have as a society to eradicate gender-based violence, completely.”
Villa signed for Boca in July 2018 and has a contract that runs until 2023. He has played 60 games for the Xeneize in which he scored five goals. He made his international debut against Venezuela in a 2018 friendly and won the Copa Argentina in 2018 and the Superliga title just a few weeks ago.
The events came to light while football is suspended in Argentina, which has been under a nationwide lockdown to curb the Covid-19 pandemic since March 20. The mandatory quarantine and isolation period, for all citizens bar a few exemptions, has led to an upsurge in gender-based violence. In the first 20 days, at least 18 women were killed by their partners or ex-partners, according to NGOs.