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.