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Soccer

PSG Player Arrested After Masked Men Attack Teammate

Kheira Hamraoui and Aminata Diallo
Franck Fife and Paul Vernon/AFP via Getty Images

Just days after a brutal, Nancy Kerrigan-esque attack on one of Paris Saint-Germain Féminine’s newest signings, Kheira Hamraoui, French police have arrested Aminata Diallo, another player on the reigning Division 1 champions, amid suspicions that she was the one who arranged the assault.

According to authorities, Hamraoui accepted a ride home from Diallo last Thursday after a dinner between players and club officials. As the car pulled up to Hamraoui’s home, two masked men suddenly appeared and dragged her out from the passenger seat. The men proceeded to beat her for several minutes with a metal bar, focusing specifically on her legs, before running away. Diallo, who had been restrained during the attack, emerged unscathed, and neither woman had any valuables stolen from them.

Hamraoui, 31, previously played at PSG from 2012 to 2016 before moving on to Champions League glory with Lyon and then Barcelona. After PSG’s breakthrough title win in 2020–21, Hamraoui returned as a marquee signing meant to further reinforce its newfound spot at the top of French women’s soccer’s hierarchy. She had started in the midfield for six of PSG’s seven league games this year before the attack, plus one of its two Champions League matches. The 26-year-old Diallo, on the other hand, is a second-string midfielder who’d gone out on loan in each of the past two seasons. Though a regular presence on the field so far in 2021, she’d been a substitute more often than she’d been a starter in the season’s first two months.

Hamraoui suffered no broken bones from the ambush, but her bruising and her shaken emotional state were enough to keep her out of action in PSG’s Champions League game on Tuesday, a 4–0 win over Real Madrid. With Hamraoui unavailable, Diallo got to start.

French police confirmed in a statement that Diallo’s arrest on Wednesday was in connection with the incident, though they refused to comment specifically on reports that Diallo had orchestrated the attack on her rival for playing time. The French sports paper L’Equipe first reported Diallo’s arrest and suggested her involvement, though the bizarre circumstances of the incident and the notoriety of the Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan affair has fueled speculation all over from the moment details emerged.

In a statement released on Wednesday, PSG acknowledged Diallo’s arrest and said that it “strongly condemns the violence committed.” The club added that it “has taken all the necessary measures to guarantee the health, well-being and safety of its players” and that it was working with Versailles police to shed light on the facts.

Both Diallo and Hamraoui have represented France internationally, though neither has been a regular in the national team setup over the past couple years. Still, the France team does demonstrate just how direct the competition for places has been between the two. Last month, Hamraoui got her first France call-up since 2019. Unfortunately, she ultimately had to decline because of a calf injury suffered right before the international break. (She healed enough to play 90 minutes for PSG in a match on Oct. 31, days before the attack.) In her stead, France manager Corinne Deacon called Diallo up as Hamraoui’s replacement.

Noël Le Graët, president of the French soccer federation, publicly registered his shock at the reports of Diallo’s detention on Wednesday. “What is suspected is implausible,” Le Graët said. “I know both players. I am appalled if what is mentioned is true. It seems unimaginable.”