Sports - March 3, 2023

PSG and Morocco’s Hakimi charged with rape

Paris Saint-Germain and Morocco defender Achraf Hakimi was charged with rape on Friday, French prosecutors said.

Hakimi, 24, was questioned by prosecutors on Thursday about accusations made by a 24-year-old woman, and subsequently charged.

The Madrid-born player, who was a key part of Morocco’s historic run to the semi-finals of the World Cup in Qatar last year, trained with his PSG teammates on Friday morning.

A PSG spokesman said the club “gives its support” to Hakimi and “places its trust in the justice system”.

Hakimi allegedly paid for his accuser to travel to his home in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt last Saturday while his wife and children were away on holiday.

The woman went to a police station on Sunday and was questioned by prosecutors on Wednesday, according to sources close to the case.

On Monday, Hakimi appeared at the FIFA Best awards ceremony in Paris, where he was named in the FIFPro men’s world team of the year.

The player’s lawyer Fanny Colin said Hakimi “firmly denies all the accusations against him” and that he was the victim of “an attempted racket”.

She said Hakimi welcomed the charge laid against him because “he finally has the possibility to defend himself”.

Rachel Flore Pardo, the lawyer for the alleged victim, told AFP: “My client maintains everything that she said. She made the choice to speak exclusively to prosecutors and does not want the affair to become a media issue, mainly to protect her safety.”

Under French law, being charged does not necessarily mean the case will go to trial.

‘Returning to action’

Reigning French champions PSG are top of Ligue 1 and face Nantes on Saturday before travelling to Germany where they play Bayern Munich in the second leg of the Champions League last 16 on Wednesday.

The French side trail 1-0 from the first leg.

On Friday, PSG said the right-back, who has been receiving treatment for a thigh injury, would return to action “next week”, suggesting he would be in the squad for the Bayern match.

The legal proceedings against Hakimi do not prevent him from leaving France.

Hakimi came through the youth system at Real Madrid before joining Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund in 2018. He went on to make 73 appearances for the German club.

He moved to Inter Milan in 2020 and then on to PSG in 2021 where he has established himself as an integral part of the team and has struck up a close friendship with star forward Kylian Mbappe.

In Qatar, he was a cornerstone of the Morocco team that became the first nation from the Arab world to reach the last four of a World Cup.

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