Antony is under investigation by Brazilian authorities and Greater Manchester Police after his former partner Gabriela Cavallin alleged he assaulted her on separate occasions between June 2022 and May this year. Two further women made accusations against him in the Brazilian media on Thursday.
The 23-year-old labelled Cavallin’s allegations “false” in a initial statement on social media, but on Friday he gave an extended interview to Brazilian TV channel SBT in which he strongly denied assaulting any woman, saying: “I never have and I never will.”
But though the Manchester United players not on international duty are expected back at the club’s Carrington training base on Monday, Antony will take a “period of absence” in what the club and player said was a mutual decision.
A club statement on Sunday afternoon read: “Manchester United acknowledges the allegations made against Antony.
“Players who have not participated in international matches are due back in training on Monday. However, it has been agreed with Antony that he will delay his return until further notice in order to address the allegations.
“As a club we condemn acts of violence and abuse. We recognise the importance of safeguarding all those involved in this situation, and acknowledge the impact these allegations have on survivors of abuse.”
Antony said in his own statement: “I have agreed with Manchester United to take a period of absence while I address the allegations made against me.
“This was a mutual decision to avoid distraction to my teammates and unnecessary controversy for the club.
“I want to reiterate my innocence of the things I have been accused of, and I will fully cooperate with the police to help them reach the truth. I look forward to returning to play as soon as possible.”
Sunday’s statement is understood to have been signed off by chief executive officer Richard Arnold following consultation with manager Erik ten Hag.
Antony has not been suspended and will receive full pay on a leave of absence, though United will continue to review the situation.
Domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid said on social media: “We welcome the decision that following serious allegations of domestic abuse and violence against women, Antony will not be returning to training or games for @ManUtd until further notice, as this situation is addressed. Safeguarding must always be the priority.”
Antony attack allegations: What happened, what’s been said, what now for United forward?
Antony had vowed to clear his name during the interview in his homeland.
“It’s not easy when you’re being crucified,” he said. “Do you think I didn’t want to speak, to defend myself? To show the public who I really am? I wanted to.
“I know the truth and the truth will come out. I know that a lot of people are massacring me. But the truth always comes out. United know about the inquiry. They’re following everything and will continue to do so.”
Cavallin — in an interview with Brazil news outlet UOL that was published on Monday, September 4 — had alleged she was first attacked by Antony on June 1, 2022 while she was pregnant when on holiday in Brazil. She claims he threatened to throw her from a moving car.
Cavallin further alleges she was head-butted and punched by Antony in a Manchester hotel room on January 15, 2023, which resulted in a damaged breast implant. She claims she also sustained a finger injury during an incident on May 8 2023.
Antony told SBT that while their relationship was “turbulent,” he “never touched her” and described allegations that he had injured her as a “lie”.
Brazilian outlet Extra reported on Thursday that a woman called Rayssa de Freitas filed a police complaint against Antony on May 20 2022, claiming she needed hospital treatment after being in the former Ajax player’s car with another woman and a hairdresser following a visit to a nightclub in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
A third woman, Ingrid Lana, 33, has also claimed Antony pushed her against a wall and tried to have sex with her when she visited his house in England last October.
Asked about Lana’s accusation, Antony said on Friday: “I’m 100 per cent certain that I never touched any woman. 100 per cent. I am certain. I will produce the proof and people will understand. They will see the truth.”
“Never,” he added, when asked if he had assaulted any woman. “I never have and I never will.”
Manchester United had first acknowledged the allegations from Cavallin in a statement released on Wednesday, September 6.
“Manchester United acknowledges the allegations made against Antony and notes that the police are conducting enquiries,” it read. “Pending further information, the club will be making no further comments.
“As a club, we are taking this matter seriously, with consideration of the impact of these allegations and subsequent reporting will have on survivors of abuse.”
An initial statement released on Antony’s social media before the interview aired had read: “Out of respect for my fans, friends and family I feel obligated to speak publicly about the false accusations I have been a victim of.
“From the beginning I have handled this issue seriously and respect, providing the due clarifications to the police authority. The police inquest is under cover of justice, and therefore I cannot make its content public.
“However, I can say with confidence that the accusations are false and that the evidence already produced and more to be produced show that I am innocent of the accusations made. My relationship with Ms. Gabriela was tumultuous, with verbal offenses from both sides, but I never practiced any physical aggression.
“Every time, whether in testimony or in interview, she presents a different version of the accusations.”
What happens now?
Police in Sao Paulo and Greater Manchester are investigating the claims, all of which Antony has denied.
United’s next match, at home in the Premier League against Brighton & Hove Albion, is on September 16, but it is currently unclear when Antony’s leave of absence will end and he will be available for selection again.
Under the terms of the standard Premier League contract, which has been in place since a collective bargaining agreement was reached with the PFA in 2003, clubs can only suspend players for a maximum of 14 days. But United could decide not to consider Antony eligible for selection — and continue to pay his wages — if they wished.
At this stage, while he has not been arrested or charged, he remains innocent until proven guilty in United’s eyes.
The club believe the leave of absence reflects the seriousness with which they view the situation and will continue to monitor it.
United previously declined to comment when asked if their position would change if Antony were to be arrested.
Additional contributors: Jack Lang
(Photo: Getty Images)