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Football star Benzema’s cash seized by France in sex tape case

Bailiffs have seized €230,000 from France and Real Madrid star, Karim Benzema, according to a source familiar with the case. Benzema was sentenced last year for complicity in a bid to blackmail a former team-mate with a sex tape.

French striker Karim Benzema was convicted for complicity to blackmail a former team-mate last year.
French striker Karim Benzema was convicted for complicity to blackmail a former team-mate last year. Bailiffs have reportedly seized more than €230,000 in cash from the player. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

French bailiffs have seized €230,000 from Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema over his conviction last year for complicity in a bid to blackmail former France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena with a sex tape, a source familiar with the case said Thursday.

A court ordered Benzema in November to pay a fine, damages and legal costs for pressuring Valbuena to pay off his blackmailers, as well as handing him a one-year suspended jail sentence.

Benzema “implicated himself personally, through subterfuge and lies, to convince his team-mate to submit to the blackmail”, the court in Paris suburb Versailles said at the time.

Benzema has appealed the ruling, which came in the same year he made a stunning return to France’s national squad after being dropped in 2015 over the blackmail allegations.

The 34-year-old has scored nine times for France since being recalled by manager Didier Deschamps for the Euro 2020 finals — delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic — making him the fifth-highest scorer in the history of Les Bleus.

Benzema’s performances have helped rehabilitate him in the eyes of many French fans and coach Didier Deschamps, and the seizure of his cash comes less than two weeks after he won France Football magazine’s player of the year award.

Valbuena’s lawyers turned to the bailiffs to recover the cash from Benzema after he did not pay up voluntarily.

A source close to the case said the Real Madrid star’s account had been partially frozen since Friday.

Benzema’s own lawyers want the money held in escrow while his appeal is heard.

“This is the logical consequence of the decision for immediate payment. We asked for an amicable agreement on payment, which was never reached,” said Valbuena’s lawyer Paul-Albert Iweins.

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SPORT

Why has the US takeover of an iconic French football club caused uproar?

Leftist politicians were up in arms Friday after a US investment firm purchased a beloved blue-collar soccer club, warning that a French cultural and sporting icon could wither in American hands.

Why has the US takeover of an iconic French football club caused uproar?

Third-division Red Star — which has an English name — is one of France’s oldest clubs, created in 1897 by the World Cup founder Jules Rimet.

While the club’s performance on the pitch has not always matched its popularity, Red Star’s bastion in the gritty northern Paris suburb of Saint-Ouen is hallowed ground for working-class fans, many of whom have fond memories of the area’s Communist past.

A match on April 15 had to be abandoned after supporters inundated the pitch with smoke bombs to protest the purchase by Miami-based 777 Partners, a private equity group focusing on finance businesses.

Hard-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon, who is forging an alliance to challenge President Emmanuel Macron in parliamentary elections next month, was among several politicians who signed an open letter in Le Monde daily denouncing the takeover.

“For us, Red Star is a common good that cannot be sacrified on the altar of profit,” they wrote, urging the government to scupper the sale and defend “a different vision of football.”

Fans claim that 777 is buying up the club — and the pool of potential talent in the low-income neighbourhoods that surround it — to pluck players for its other clubs.

The firm also owns Standard Liege in Belgium, Genoa in Italy and Vasco de Gama in Brazil, and says it has a “major stake” in Spanish first division side Sevilla.

Red Star’s former majority owner Patrice Haddad vowed that 777 would respect the club’s DNA and its “human aspect.”

“How can we protect accessible football if we don’t have the resources? How can we have tickets costing just 10 euros ($10.40)? You need money for all that,” he told sports daily L’Equipe this week.

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