French Women’s Player Charged in Attack on Teammate
A former Paris St.-Germain women’s soccer player was charged with aggravated assault on Friday as part of the investigation into a violent attack on one of her teammates last year by masked men wielding a metal bar.
The player, Aminata Diallo, was taken into custody early Friday morning. Later in the day, she was charged in what the prosecutor in the case said was a planned and premeditated attack on her P.S.G. teammate at the time Kheira Hamraoui. Diallo, according to the prosecutor’s statement, has been temporarily placed in prison pending further talks with the investigating judge. The prosecutor has called for her to face pretrial detention, meaning she would remain in prison while she awaits further developments in the case.
The attack on Hamraoui became headline news in France and beyond last year because of the nature of the assault and the subsequent detention of Diallo. The cinematic story line — masked men wielding a metal bar on a dark street, reports of marital infidelity and unsubstantiated reports that a battle for playing time had factored in the attack — has led filmmakers to approach both women about collaborating on projects.
But the incident also convulsed both the P.S.G. team and the French national team, on which both women had played, and it even led to the breakup of the marriage of a celebrated former French men’s player, Eric Abidal. Abidal’s wife, Hayet Abidal, filed for divorce last year, claiming that her husband had admitted to an extramarital affair with Hamraoui.
Prosecutors said three men had acknowledged being at the scene and that a fourth had admitted striking Hamraoui. All four men, the prosecutor’s statement said, implicated Diallo as organizing the attack on her orders, and they contended the plot was an effort to take Hamraoui’s place on the P.S.G. team.
Those details bear striking similarities to the notorious attack perpetrated on the Olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan in 1994. Kerrigan was attacked at that year’s United States championships in a plot orchestrated by the ex-husband of a rival skater, Tonya Harding. Kerrigan was assaulted after a practice session by a man who hit her repeatedly in the legs with a police baton.
Diallo has maintained her innocence from the start, and she was released without charges after 36 hours in her first detention last year. Neither she nor her lawyer made any public comments on Friday.
The attack on Hamraoui followed a team dinner last November at an upscale restaurant in a park on the outskirts of Paris. Diallo had offered Hamraoui a ride home but, after dropping off a third teammate at her home, their journey was interrupted when two men emerged in front of the club-issued car that Diallo was driving, opened the passenger door and dragged Hamraoui out. One of the men then began beating Hamraoui with a metal bar, focusing on her legs and leaving her cut and bruised. Diallo told the police that she was pinned to the steering wheel by another man while the attack took place.
A week after the attack, Diallo was arrested, and she was kept in police custody for 36 hours. The Versailles prosecutor’s office confirmed at the time that an acquaintance of Diallo’s, a man in Lyon who had been in jail on unrelated charges, had been questioned and then released.
The incident has wrecked the careers of both women. Diallo, 27, retired from professional soccer this summer after her contract with P.S.G. expired. Hamraoui, 32, remains under contract at P.S.G., but she is in a dispute with the club about her treatment after having not been selected to play by the team’s current management.
Both players were left off the France squad that competed in this summer’s European women’s championship in England.
Diallo’s lawyer, Mourad Battikh, did not reply to a request for comment on Friday. Earlier this week, however, after several men were arrested in connection with the attack, Battikh had said that there was no link between them and Diallo. “Aminata is innocent and has claimed her innocence since the beginning,” he said.