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Friday, December 9, 2022

In an attack on a French soccer star, the truth is elusive

The sky had already become black by the time Aminata Diallo walked under a concrete archway leading from the Hôtel de Police to the pavement outside. It had been around 36 hours since cops had hammered on her flat door, waking her from her slumber and removing her from the premises to be held in detention.

The sight of what Diallo, a midfielder for the French soccer club Paris St.-Germain, discovered after being freed and skimming through hundreds of messages she had ignored, took her by surprise. Her name, which had been little known outside of the closed-off world of French women’s soccer just a few days before, was now making headlines all over the globe.

According to news sources, Diallo was the athlete who was driving the vehicle when one of her colleagues was dragged from the passenger seat by a masked guy and abused last month, according to the news reports. As reported by the media, Diallo was the only one who had escaped injury while her companion and teammate Kheira Hamraoui had been battered with an iron rod. As a result of this investigation, Diallo was no longer being questioned as a witness, but rather as a probable suspect in what the police believed to be a planned assault.

A little more than three weeks had elapsed since Amadou Diallo, 26 years old, walked out of the police station in Versailles, having been freed after two days of interrogation and one night in a cramped, stench-filled cell. Even while the investigation is still ongoing, it seems that the authorities are no closer to determining what, or who, was responsible for the assault on Nov. 4 on a dark street in the Paris suburb of Chatou.

There are a few things that are unassailable. Hamraoui, a 31-year-old man, was the victim of a violent crime. Diallo was taken into custody and then released.

The New York Times gathered information about the attack and its aftermath by interviewing nearly a dozen people who had firsthand knowledge of the principals, the assault, and the days that followed, including friends, relatives, and associates of the players; the players’ attorneys; P.S.G. insiders; and members of the law enforcement community.

Many of those questioned expressed a desire to refute the story’s existing narrative of jealously and betrayal, and virtually all consented to talk only on the condition that they were not identified, given the sensitivity of the situation.

The problem has continued to wreak havoc on the P.S.G. women’s squad. Its first game after the news broke was a 6-1 defeat at the hands of Lyon, its biggest title opponent, which ended its ambitions of regaining the French championship for the second time. The next day, a number of Hamraoui’s teammates approached her and requested if they might relocate their lockers away from hers in the dressing room. Others have informed the club’s management that they will find it difficult to play with her in the future. Several of the club’s finest players have expressed a desire to leave.

Throughout this time, the attackers have remained at large, and no one knows where the investigation will go. The perpetrator of a planned assault such as the one on Hamraoui faces a five-year jail term, according to an official from the Versailles police department.

Diallo is seeking restitution, according to her attorney. P.S.G. has just six months remaining on her contract, but she is certain in her own innocence and wants to continue her professional career at the company. “All of the media all around the globe did a lot of harm to her image,” said Battikh, her attorney.

Hamraoui, like everyone else, wants justice, and she is optimistic that the truth will be discovered inside her soccer club. She said as much in her most recent interview with the police, which took place on Nov. 29; the investigators, according to a source acquainted with her appearance, questioned her about Diallo’s conduct on the trip home, as well as about the route she travelled to get there.

Harir, Hamraoui’s lawyer, told reporters in his office in a posh neighbourhood near the Champs-Élysées that the investigation must stay focused on determining who was behind the assault.

Dan O'Brien
I am a journalist for The National Era with an emphasis in sports.
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