Benzema banned by France over blackmail case

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema reacts during his team's Champions League soccer match against Malmo at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, December 8, 2015 (Reuters)

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has been suspended indefinitely from the France team because of the blackmail case he is embroiled in, the president of the national football federation (FFF) said on Thursday.

Benzema was put under formal investigation by a French judge last month in connection with an alleged attempt to blackmail international team mate Mathieu Valbuena over a sex video.

“I have decided, it’s a decision from the president of the French federation and not from the executive committee or the ethics committee, that Karim Benzema cannot play for France until the situation evolves,” Noel Le Graet told a news conference.

“As long as the judicial system has not decided that everything that has been published on Benzema is excessive, the federation will not change its mind,” he added while urging the judge handling the case to set up a meeting between the two players.

Le Graet was not specific but his ruling probably means Benzema cannot be called up by the national team until he is convicted or cleared of the alleged offence.

Benzema has denied any wrongdoing although he has been banned from contacting anyone linked to the investigation including Olympique Lyonnais forward Valbuena.

The scandal has been in the public domain since details of the investigation, as well as the transcript of Benzema’s hearing with a judge, were leaked by the French media.

The football federation became a plaintiff in the case after Valbuena said in an interview with Le Monde that he was disappointed with his team mate.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls said last week that Benzema should not play for France before he is cleared.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:49 - GMT 06:49