PARIS Saint-Germain defender Achraf Hakimi, charged with rape in France, was called into the Morocco squad Monday for friendly games against Brazil and Peru.
One of the stars of Morocco’s historic charge to the semi-finals of the World Cup last year, Hakimi was charged earlier this month with allegedly raping a 24-year-old woman.
Hakimi allegedly paid for his accuser to travel to his home on February 25 in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt while his wife and children were away on holiday.
He denies the accusations.
“We are behind him and that’s the most important thing,” Morocco coach Walid Regragui said.
“There is the presumption of innocence until there is proof to the contrary, we and all Moroccans are backing him,” Regragui told a press conference in Rabat.
“He is unfazed and that’s important,” he said. “We are all behind him and it would do him good to return to Morocco and feel that everyone supports him.”
The match against Brazil will be held on March 25 in Tangiers while the game against Peru is due for March 28 in Madrid.
“He is someone who is strong on and off the field,” Regragui said, adding that he had spoken to Hakimi after the rape allegations surfaced.
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.