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BENZEMA

French PM blamed after Benzema axed over sex-tape

French football chiefs have confirmed that Karim Benzema has been barred from their Euro 2016 squad over the sex tape blackmail scandal he is mired in. Although some are blaming the French PM.

French PM blamed after Benzema axed over sex-tape

Embroiled in the Mathieu Valbuena sex-tape scandal, France forward Karim Benzema will not be selected for Euro 2016, the player and the French Football Federation (FFF) confirmed on Wednesday.

“Unfortunately for me and for those who have always backed me and supported me, I will not be selected for our Euro in France,” Benzema revealed on his official Twitter account.

That was the cue for the player's lawyer to take aim at the country's Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who said last month that Benzema should not be allowed to return to the national team while he remains at the centre of the investigation.

Eric Dupond-Moretti blamed the intervention of Valls for influencing the FFF's decision.

“I am not happy with the Prime Minister for getting involved in the selection of the France team. It is not his job,” he told RMC Radio

Earlier the FFF had released a statement, confirming that the organization's president Noel Le Graet had met with France coach Didier Deschamps to discuss Benzema's position.

They said that “sporting performance is an important factor but not the only one that decides whether a player is called up to the France squad.

“The capacity of the players to strive towards unity, within and around the squad, to be exemplary…are also taken into account.

“As a result, Noel Le Graet and Didier Deschamps have decided that Karim Benzema will not be able to participate at Euro 2016.”

Benzema, 28, was indefinitely suspended from the France team in December after he was placed under investigation over an attempt to blackmail France teammate Valbuena in relation to a sex-tape.

Benzema has been accused of complicity in the attempt.

Legal restrictions barring Benzema from coming into contact with Valbuena were recently lifted, but the case has not yet been resolved.

According to investigators, Benzema was approached by a childhood friend from Lyon, Karim Zenati, who asked him to persuade Valbuena to pay money to have the tape destroyed.

Instead, Valbuena went to the police.

Three men were arrested and held in custody over the demands to Valbuena, but they were subsequently released.

Benzema has denied any wrongdoing but could face a five-year jail term if found guilty.

 

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BENZEMA

French court rejects Benzema request to drop sextape case

A French court on Friday rejected a request from Real Madrid and France striker Karim Benzema to drop the investigation into alleged blackmail over a sextape featuring international teammate Mathieu Valbuena, a lawyer said.

French court rejects Benzema request to drop sextape case
Photo: AFP
“We are pretty astonished because the decision is to reject our requests for the investigation to be cancelled,” said Serge Money, who represents another suspect in the case, which cost Benzema a place in France's Euro 2016 squad on home soil this year.
 
The case, which cost Benzema a place in France's Euro 2016 squad on home soil, is now expected to go to trial next year.
   
The Versailles appeal court also asked the investigating magistrate to consider charging former Liverpool and Marseille striker Djibril Cisse.
   
Investigators suspect 28-year-old Benzema of acting as an intermediary between the presumed blackmailers — including one of his childhood friends — and Lyon midfielder Valbuena.
   
Benzema and three of the other suspects asked for the case against them to be dropped.
   
They say police used “dishonest” methods by posing as a friend of Valbuena's in a telephone conversation with one of the accused.
   
The prosecution meanwhile says Cisse helped to push along the deception by informing Valbuena that “rumours” were circulating about the existence of the sextape.
   
The 35-year-old was arrested as part of the investigation in 2015 but was released without charge.
   
Cisse said in a TV interview at the time that he had only been arrested “so the investigators could hear my side of the story. I never swindled anyone — Mathieu is a friend”.
   
Benzema has been usurped as France's star striker by Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann, but national coach Didier Deschamps says he has not ruled out a return to the international fold for the Real forward.
 
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