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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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BENZEMA

Star booted off French team over sex tape rap

The French Football Federation on Thursday indefinitely suspended star striker Karim Benzema because of criminal charges of involvement in a sex-tape blackmail attempt against teammate Mathieu Valbuena.

Star booted off French team over sex tape rap
France's midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, left, and forward Karim Benzema seen here in October last year. Photo: AFP
Federation president Noel Le Graet said the suspension would include the 2016 European Championships to be held in France unless the case was settled.
 
“Karim Benzema will not be selected until the situation changes, until there is something new in the case. It is a decision I took as president of the federation,” Le Graet told a press conference in Paris.
   
He added that either the charges had to be dropped or Benzema — the leading scorer among all current France internationals with 27 goals in 81 caps — and Valbuena had to reconcile.
   
“If there is no change in March (when the next internationals are held) he will not play, if there is no change for the Euro he will not play,” Le Graet declared.
   
Le Graet's announcement came just two days before the draw for the Euro 2016 finals is held in Paris.
   
Le Graet said that the 27-year-old Real Madrid star was an “extraordinary” player but that the FFF had to take account of public opinion.
 
Game over: Is Benzema's France career finished?
   
Valbuena was left out of France's last game because of the scandal, but he will be allowed to play again, the president added.
   
Benzema has been charged with complicity in the attempt to blackmail 31-year-old Lyon midfielder Valbuena.
   
Valbuena has said the sex images were on a mobile telephone that was stolen.
   
Three men have been detained for the cash demand to have the tape destroyed.
   
The federation had faced strong pressure over the case.
   
The scandal has brought chaos to France's preparations for the Euros, with even Prime Minister Manuel Valls calling for Benzema to be excluded from the national team.
   
French Football League (LFP) president Frederic Thiriez also said that “wearing the blue shirt is not something ordinary.
   
“An exemplary attitude must come before even performance, if we want to win over hearts.”
   
“The French team is regularly shaken by scandals which feed a growing disillusionment among our compatriots,” Thiriez complained.
   
French football's embarrassment has been increased because Benzema is alleged to have approached Valbuena at a national training camp on October 5 to encourage him to speak to the blackmailers, one of whom was a close childhood friend.
   
Valbuena has said that Benzema “indirectly” urged him to pay.
   
Benzema has replied that he is the target of “persecution” and says he has the support of French coach Didier Deschamps, while others have given him their backing.