Saturday, January 29 2022

The Paris Saint-Germain women’s footballer Kheira Hamraoui, who had her legs beaten in a mysterious street attack, appealed Tuesday to the media to respect her privacy amid speculation about her relations with former French international Eric Abidal.

The assault on Hamraoui, 31, took place while she was being driven home from a dinner in Paris by teammate Aminata Diallo, 26, on November 4.

The car was stopped by masked men who dragged the players from the vehicle and beat Hamraoui’s legs with a metal bar while restraining fellow midfielder Diallo.

Hamraoui required stitches and missed her next game with PSG.

After an initial flurry of speculation about her sporting rivalry with Diallo, who was unharmed in the attack and stood in for her in the next game, the focus shifted to Abidal after the investigation revealed links between the former France and Barcelona star and the PSG midfielder.

In a statement Hamraoui’s lawyer said the player “demands that her private life be immediately respected, along with her right to remain silent about this difficult episode.”

The statement added that the attack pointed to an “unconcealed desire to damage her (Hamraoui’s) professional career” and that she had suffered “significant physical and psychological harm”.

Hamraoui had the “firm intention” of returning to her midfield berth at PSG, it added.

Hamraoui was using a telephone SIM card registered in Abidal’s name on the night of the attack.

A source close to the inquiry said Hamraoui had told the police that the SIM card was “in her ex’s name.”

Abidal is a household name in France. He made a stunning return to his playing career in 2013, a year after undergoing a liver transplant.

He served as Barcelona’s sporting director from 2018 to 2020, during which time Hamraoui was with the women’s team.

On Monday, the Versailles prosecutors’ office, which is leading the investigation, said investigators could soon question Abidal and could also question his wife Hayet, while saying it was “just one lead among many”.

Diallo was held for questioning for nearly 35 hours before being released without charge.

French media reported that Hamraoui had raised concerns about Diallo when she filed a police complaint about the attack, highlighting the unusual route taken by her teammate and the slow speed of their vehicle.

Diallo’s lawyer claimed that the suggestion of a rivalry between the two players was “totally artificial”.

ube/cb/sjw/bsp

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