PSG’s Hakimi charged with rape

Paris Saint-Germain defender Achraf Hakimi, one of the stars of Morocco's historic charge to the semi-finals of the World Cup last year, was charged with rape on Friday.

Hakimi, 24, was charged after being questioned by prosecutors on Thursday about accusations made by a 24-year-old woman who cannot be identified.

The Madrid-born player trained with his teammates on Friday.

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

The player's lawyer said he denied the accusations and welcomed the chance to clear his name.

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.

Although the woman refused to make a formal accusation, prosecutors decided to press charges against the player.

In Qatar, Hakimi was a cornerstone of the Morocco team that became the first African or Arab nation to reach the semi-finals of a World Cup.

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

Fanny Colin, Hakimi's lawyer, said he "firmly denies all the accusations against him" and claimed 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".

Colin said Hakimi's accuser had "refused to make a formal accusation and refused to have a medical or psychological examination".

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.

Reigning French champions PSG are top of Ligue 1 and face Nantes at home on Saturday before travelling to Germany where they will try to overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit against Bayern Munich in the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday.

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