Paris Saint-Germain women’s footballer Aminata Diallo was detained by police Wednesday in connection with a vicious street assault on a team-mate and fellow French national player last week, her club said.
Diallo was returning with fellow midfielder Kheira Hamraoui from a Paris dinner organised by PSG last Thursday when armed men held up their car and dragged out Hamraoui, who was then hit on the legs with an iron bar, L’Equipe newspaper reported.
Hamraoui, who required stitches in hospital afterwards, was notably absent from the PSG team on Tuesday evening for a Champions League game against Real Madrid at home, with Diallo playing in her place in central midfield.
PSG said it was working with police “to shed light on the facts. The club will be following the investigation and will look at the conclusions that need to be drawn.”
It said that since the attack the club “had taken all the necessary measures to ensure the health, well-being and security of its players.”
Diallo, 26, was briefly held by the balaclava-wearing attackers during the assault near Hamraoui’s home, but was not injured, a source at the club told AFP.
The Grenoble-born player could not be reached for comment and neither police nor prosecutors gave any reason for her detention.
Diallo was detained by police specialised in organised crime at her home in Marly-le-Roi, a suburb west of Paris.
Late afternoon on Wednesday, her detention was extended by 24 hours, Versailles prosecutor Maryvonne Caillibotte told AFP.
Diallo could now remain in a Versailles police station until Friday morning.
A man “who could be linked to the attack”, but is not related to Diallo, was also taken into police custody in the central city of Lyon, Caillibotte said.
The prosecutor added that Diallo had spoken while in police custody but had not called a lawyer.
The development sent shockwaves through the club and the women’s game more broadly in France, with the two players considered friendly rivals for midfield positions at PSG and in the national team.
Hamraoui, 31, returned to PSG last summer from Barcelona, where she won three titles including the Champions League last year.
She was recalled to the French national team in October after a more than two-year absence, but pulled out because of injury.
Diallo, who has been capped seven times by France, was called up to replace her in the squad, but was not used by coach Corinne Diacre.
The PSG women’s team won their first league title last year, breaking the stranglehold of Lyon, which had been crowned champions for 14 years in a row.
The team showed no sign of being unsettled by the attack on Hamraoui during their game against Real Madrid, winning 4-0.
Diallo played almost the entire game, before being substituted in the 89th minute.
The bizarre incident has prompted comparisons to when the ex-husband and bodyguard of American figure skater Tonya Harding arranged an attack on her rival Nancy Kerrigan in the run-up to the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics.