PSG’s Aminata Diallo arrested after teammate attack
The Paris Saint-Germain players, champions of France and benefiting from a sharp increase in investments in women’s football, were in high spirits as they enjoyed a dinner with club officials last week at a restaurant near the one of the largest parks in the city.
A few months before the team’s first French title, used to the biggest European tournaments and unbeaten in the new season, the team had much to be happy about and the atmosphere was collegial. As the evening drew to a close, one of the team’s new recruits, Kheira Hamraoui, accepted the return of her teammate Aminata Diallo. Carpooling made sense; the two women lived in Chatou, a posh suburb on the outskirts of Paris, and soon they and a third player were in the car for the half-hour drive home.
When the car approached Hamraoui’s house around 10:30 p.m., however, the journey took a threatening turn. Two masked men emerged from the darkness and dragged Hamraoui out of the passenger seat. Then, according to media reports later confirmed by French police, the men beat Hamraoui with a metal bar for several minutes, paying special attention to the body part she needed most to play for. one of the most successful women’s football teams in Europe: her legs.
At the end of the beatings, the men fled. Diallo, who had been immobilized, was apparently unharmed.
On Wednesday, she was suspected of the attack.
Early Wednesday morning, French police arrested Diallo, 26, at his nearby home and confirmed in a statement that his detention was linked to Hamraoui’s complaint, although they did not explicitly link Diallo to the assault. , and declined to comment to save it. French sports daily L’Equipe, which first reported the arrest, suggested Diallo may have played a role in the attack on Hamraoui, his playing-time rival at the center of the PSG midfielder.
Even before that, however, the attack had sparked talk of training facilities across Europe, where multi-million dollar investments in women’s football raised the profile of the sport, its top players and its top players. bigger clubs. This has raised the stakes for players who now see the sport as a viable profession and a potential route to wealth for top players through six-figure annual contracts and growing sponsorship opportunities.
As the club hired additional security guards for Hamraoui’s worried teammates, the police investigation slowly gathered pace. On Wednesday, Diallo’s arrest shocked everyone again.
“Paris St.-Germain is working with the Versailles police to clarify the facts,” the team said in a statement. âThe club is closely monitoring the progress of the procedure and will study the measures to be taken. “
NoÃ«l Le GraÃ«t, the president of the French Football Federation, said he was shocked by the arrest of Diallo, who, like Hamraoui, played for the French national team. Diallo was at camp with the team as recently as last month, for a series of World Cup qualifiers. Hamraoui, a 2015 World Cup and 2016 Olympics veteran, last played for France in 2019 but her career was revived with a Champions League title with Barcelona last season and a transfer off season at PSG
“What is suspected is implausible,” said Le GraÃ«t. âI know both players. I am appalled if what is said is true. It seems unimaginable.
The incident and accusations of personal rivalry and professional jealousy immediately evoked memories of the 1994 assault on figure skater Nancy Kerrigan, who was attacked at that year’s United States Championships in a conspiracy. orchestrated by the ex-husband of a rival skater, Tonya Harding. . Kerrigan was assaulted after a training session by a man who repeatedly hit her in the legs with a police baton.
After Kerrigan was forced to withdraw from the championships due to her injuries, Harding won the competition and secured a spot on the 1994 US Olympic team. Kerrigan was then named to the team and several weeks later , she won the silver medal at the Lillehammer Games. Harding, who has long denied being involved in the attack but pleaded guilty to obstructing prosecution, was eighth.
The scandal was revived in 2017 with the release of a fictional biopic, “Me, Tonya”.
PSG, backed by the deep pockets of their Qatari owners, said on Wednesday they continued to offer their players extra security in the days following the attack, an extra layer of protection they regularly put in. place for its well-known male players. In recent years, several PSG players have had their homes broken into – sometimes while family members were inside – while away to play games.
“Since Thursday evening, the club has taken all the necessary measures to guarantee the health, well-being and safety of all its female team,” added the statement from PSG.
For many in women’s football, however, the Hamraoui incident was difficult to understand. The motivation did not appear to be theft – the attackers had taken nothing from either woman, police said – but rather a determined effort to injure a player.
The competition for places in the squad’s roster has intensified this season after the women’s team finally ended the dominance of their league and mainland rival Lyon by winning their first French title. PSG had finished second behind Lyon eight times in the previous 10 years. With a national title in hand, the team now has a European club title in their sights.
The signing of Hamraoui, 31, from European champion Barcelona for his second stint with the club was part of PSG’s efforts to strengthen their squad and defend their sudden primacy in their national rivalry with Lyon. Both teams started the new campaign as strong as ever, each having won their first seven games. PSG have not yet given up a goal in national or European competition.
Diallo also returned to Paris this season, after a loan from AtlÃ©tico Madrid, but was effectively used as Hamraoui’s understudy. That changed this week when Hamraoui, badly shaken and treated with cuts and bruises – but no broken bones – was unable to play a Champions League game against Real Madrid.
At the time, the club explained his absence as a personal issue. His replacement in the lineup on Tuesday? Diallo.