Manchester City and France footballer Benjamin Mendy on Wednesday began his trial for the alleged rape and assault of seven women, which could see his playing career end in jail if convicted.
Mendy, 28, arrived at Chester Crown Court in northwest England wearing a dark blue suit and tie to face eight counts of rape, one count of sexual assault and one count of attempted rape, relating to seven young women.
Flanked by an interpreter in the dock, the French player spoke in English to confirm his identity.
He pleaded not guilty in May to nine of the charges, and not guilty on Wednesday to a subsequent rape count that had not yet been put to him in court.
All the alleged offences are said to have taken place at Mendy’s home address in Prestbury near Macclesfield, also in northwest England, between October 2018 and August last year.
He is standing trial before a jury along with his co-defendant Louis Saha Matturie, 40, who has also pleaded not guilty.
Matturie denies eight counts of rape and four counts of sexual assault, relating to eight young women. His alleged offences span from July 2012 to August last year.
Both the defendants are on bail, with Mendy subject to what a judge previously called “stringent” conditions, including the surrender of his passport.
After his arrest last August he was initially held at Altcourse prison in Liverpool, and then a prison in Manchester, before being freed on bail in January.
The trial is due to last 15 weeks, with the prosecution set to open its case on Monday.
None of the women said to have been assaulted can be named under English law, which also places restrictions on what can be reported about the case.
It begins in the same week that former Manchester United star Ryan Giggs started his trial on charges of assaulting and coercively controlling his ex-girlfriend.
Mendy joined Premier League champions City from the French side of Monaco in 2017. He has played 75 times for the Manchester club, but his playing time was limited by injuries and a loss of form.
He was suspended by City after being charged by police in August.
The last of Mendy’s 10 international caps came in November 2019, after the defender picked up a World Cup winner’s medal after playing just 40 minutes of France’s successful 2018 campaign in Russia.