Enter your email to read this article
Read news on any topic, in one place, from publishers like The Economist, FT, Bloomberg and more.

PSG's Hamraoui denounces 'smear campaign' after assault

Kheira Hamraoui (L) and fellow France midfielder Aminata Diallo (R). ©AFP

Paris (AFP) - Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Kheira Hamraoui on Friday slammed a "smear campaign" against her in the wake of a teammate's arrest over her brutal street assault, which has thrown her career into disarray.

Hamraoui was being driven home from a club dinner last November when armed men held up the car and she was dragged out and beaten on the legs with an iron bar.

Fellow midfielder Aminata Diallo, who was driving, was detained and released shortly afterwards, before being re-arrested last week on suspicions she was behind the attack.

Since them, Hamraoui has reportedly been the target of harassment campaigns fomented by fellow teammates over the suspicions against Diallo, which have impacted team morale and PSG's performance.

After a dispute with a teammate she was removed from the PSG playing roster, though the club said Tuesday Hamraoui would be eligible to play "soon."

"I'm a bit stunned by everything that's happened in this affair, it's destroying me," Hamraoui told BFM television in an interview published Friday, often holding back tears.

"It was surprising that before every match where I was going to play, all these horrible things came out about me," she said. 

"When I saw this media onslaught against me, I knew something was suspicious -- I couldn't go from victim to culprit overnight," she added.

"The smear campaign is just as terrible [as the assault], I put them on the same level." 

She declined to comment on Diallo, who was released on bail Wednesday after several days of questioning, and whose lawyers have denied any involvement in the attack.

"With my experience and record, I deserve some respect...in particular from my club," Hamraoui said.