Marseille’s Brandao charged with rape and released

An investigating judge has filed preliminary charges of rape against Marseille striker Brandao before releasing the Brazilian from custody pending further investigation.

The 30-year-old Brandao was released late Wednesday by Judge Laetitia Ugolini after being arrested at his home and taken into police custody for questioning a day earlier, a judicial official said Thursday.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the person wasn’t authorized to comment publicly.

A 23-year-old woman alleges she was raped on March 2 after they returned from a night club. Brandao denies the accusation, saying they had consensual sex.

Investigators have spoken to several Marseille players over the allegation.

Brandao has been withdrawn from Marseille’s squad to face Rennes in the French league on Friday, and coach Didier Deschamps acknowledged his players were finding it hard to focus.

”Obviously, all of this disrupts the squad. It’s not really ideal to prepare the difficult match awaiting us on Friday night,” Deschamps said. ”I could gladly do without these kind of problems, but we have to try and focus the players’ energies on Friday’s game.”

Marseille President Jean-Claude Dassier was set to meet with Brandao later Thursday to discuss ”under what circumstances he may eventually come into the Marseille squad,” pending the outcome of the investigation.

Dassier said on the club’s website that he was also planning to address the rest of the players to ”remind them of their duties.”

Marseille winger Mathieu Valbuena offered his support for Brandao.

”I hope things work out,” Valbuena said on RMC radio. ”First of all for him (Brandao), because I like him enormously. And for the club because we don’t need this.”