Ex-teammate charged over attack on French football star

·3-min read

A former France and Paris Saint-Germain player was placed in pre-trial detention Friday, charged with aggravated violence and "criminal association" over an attack on teammate Kheira Hamraoui last November, prosecutors said.

Aminata Diallo, 27, was detained Friday evening at the behest of the  prosecutor's office in Versailles, near Paris, after police arrested her and took her into custody.

Four other suspects, men allegedly involved in the attack, have also been charged over the attack last November on Hamraoui, 32.

Two of them have been charged with aggravated violence.

- "Prevent her from playing " -

"While in custody the men suspected of participating in the attack said someone had explained to them they had to prevent Hamraoui from playing," a judicial source told AFP.

Hamraoui, who has 39 caps for her country, had only returned to PSG months before the attack after a successful spell with Barcelona, where she won three titles and the Champions League last year.

Investigators suspect the motive for the attack on her was professional rivalry as Diallo was competing with the veteran for a midfield starting spot.

Diallo denies any involvement with the attack.

Her lawyer Mourad Battikh was unavailable for comment Friday evening.

A source close to the inquiry said Diallo "did not say much" during Friday questioning, adding that "she did not recognise participation (in the attack) before swiftly invoking her right to silence."

Of the four men under investigation, one aged 19 and the others in their early 20s, one was released from custody but remains under investigation.

Diallo, first detained in the wake of the attack, was arrested for the second time following the detention of the four men earlier in the week.

A judicial source told AFP the two men had implicated Diallo in the attack under questioning, though she has denied any involvement.

Diallo was driving Hamraoui, a star PSG midfielder, home from a club dinner on November 4, 2021, when they were allegedly forced to stop by two masked men.

Hamraoui was then dragged out and beaten on the legs with an iron bar, resulting in injuries that required stitches in hospital.

"It was an ambush. These people were waiting for me behind a truck. They were at the right place at the right time. How could they have been so well informed?" she told French daily L'Equipe in June.

According to media reports, Hamraoui also told police she suspected Diallo might be involved because of the unusual route she took home, and the slow speed of their vehicle when the two attackers sprang out to stop the car.

Since the attack, Hamraoui's defence team has said she has been the target of harassment campaigns fomented by fellow teammates over the suspicions against Diallo, which have impacted team morale and PSG's performance.

She has been kept apart from fellow teammates since the start of the 2022-23 season, though the experienced international -- twice a Champions League winner with Lyon -- insists she intends to see through her PSG contract until June 2023.

The sporting director of PSG's women's team, Sabrina Delannoy, says Hamraoui does not feature in their plans, however, for the rest of the season.

Diallo, who has been capped seven times by France, is without a club since the expiration of her PSG contract.

- Harrowing for women's football -

The attack shook the wealthy Qatar-owned club and the French women's league more broadly, just as women's football is growing in popularity.

Clubs across Europe have ploughed money into women's clubs in recent years, with PSG attracting 16,000 supporters to their match against Real Madrid just a week after the November 2021 assault.

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