French handball star detained in rape probe hours after Euro triumph

AFP , Wednesday 31 Jan 2024

French police detained a player on the country's national handball team on suspicion of attempted rape hours after the side won the 2024 European men's handball championship, sources said on Wednesday.

Benoit Kounkoud
File Photo: France s Benoit Kounkoud vies for the ball during the men s EURO 2024 EHF Handball European Championship match Group A Switzerland v France in Berlin on January 14, 2024. AP

Benoit Kounkoud is accused of attempted rape in a Paris nightclub on the night of Monday to Tuesday, after France won the title in the German city of Cologne in a nail-biting victory over arch-rivals Denmark at the weekend.

Kounkoud, 26, was arrested by Paris police early Tuesday, a source close to the issue and prosecutors told AFP.

Prosecutors said that a woman in her early 20s had accused him of attempted rape during an alcohol-fuelled night out in a nightclub in Paris' central eighth district.

Kounkoud was not immediately available for comment.

The French Handball Federation said it could not comment on the case but would "closely watch the follow-up by the judicial authorities."

The federation said it "reaffirmed its determination to fight against all forms of violence... regardless of the person implicated."

His Polish club Kielce, one of the top sides in Europe, said it "takes the issue seriously" and would take "appropriate measures" once it had received official information about the incident.

French President Emmanuel Macron had on Monday hosted the victorious team at the Elysee Palace, praising the "lesson of sporting and mental engagement" it had handed out.

The victory made France hot favourites for retaining the Olympic title at their home 2024 Games in Paris in the face of the challenge from handball-mad Nordic nations and other rivals like Spain.

Called up following injury doubts surrounding another player, Kounkoud played a largely supporting role and did not get playing time in the semi-final against Sweden or final.

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