The story sounds like the Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan incident all over again, except this time it’s unfolding on one of the world’s most important women soccer teams.
Paris Saint-Germain player and France national teamer Aminata Diallo was taken into custody Wednesday morning as part of a police investigation into an attack on her teammate, Kheira Hamraoui, by masked men on Nov. 4.
The club confirmed in a statement that Diallo was taken into custody, but stopped short of identifying the teammate who was assaulted or characterizing Diallo’s potential involvement.
“Paris Saint-Germain can confirm that Aminata Diallo was taken into custody this morning by the Versailles Regional Police Service as part of the proceedings opened following an attack on the club’s players last Thursday evening.
“Paris Saint-Germain condemns in the strongest possible terms the violence committed.
Paris Saint-Germain is working with the Versailles Police to clarify the facts. The Club is paying close attention to the progress of the proceedings and will study what action to take.”
Details of the attack, which were first published by French sports daily L’Equipe, had Hamraoui catching a ride home with her teammate Diallo after a team dinner. The car was reportedly stopped by two men, who forced the women out of the car and attacked Hamraoui with a metal bar, targeting her legs.
The leg injuries — reported to have been bruises and cuts, but no breaks — aren’t career-threatening, but they did force Hamraoui out of a UEFA Champions League match against Real Madrid on Tuesday. It was Diallo who took her place in midfield and PSG won 4-0.
It’s a story that bizarrely follows the script of the one that rocked the figure skating world in 1994: Star skater Nancy Kerrigan was assaulted by a man, who targeted her knee with a baton. The plot was orchestrated by Harding’s ex-husband and the injuries forced Kerrigan out of the U.S. figure skating championships, which Harding won to make the Olympic team. Kerrigan recovered and joined her at the Olympics.
Diallo has not been directly linked to the attack outside of the arrest. Diallo and Hamraoui are in direct competition for a starting spot with PSG, though both started in midfield in a Division I Feminine match on Oct. 31.
The 26-year-old Diallo joined PSG in 2016 and returned in the summer from back-to-back loans with the Utah Royals in the NWSL and Atletico Madrid in Spain. Hamraoui, a 31-year-old former France international, recently joined PSG in the summer from Barcelona.
In the wake of the incident, PSG said it’s providing added security for its women’s players: “Since Thursday evening the club has taken all necessary measures to guarantee the health, well-being and safety of its entire women’s team,” the statement read.
French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet released a statement pending the results of the investigation:
“I don’t know more than you for now,” read the statement published by L’Equipe. “But what’s being suspected is improbable. I know the two players. I’d be shocked if what’s being suggested is true. It would appear unimaginable. I am still very surprised and look forward to the results of the investigation.”