The Premier League defender and his brother, Tesfaye Bramble, were arrested at the Vermont Hotel early on Wednesday and are being questioned by detectives.
The 29-year-old was arrested after a call was made to the police by a woman in her 20s.
Sunderland Football Club has so far not commented. Bramble joined the club from Wigan in the summer.
A spokesman for Northumbria Police said two men, aged 29 and 30, were arrested on suspicion of rape.
Bramble, a former England Under-21 team member, has also played for Newcastle United and Ipswich.
His brother has played international football for Montserrat and played in the Football League for Southend United and Stockport County.
He most recently played non-league football for Felixstowe and Walton United.
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