France and Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema has dropped an appeal against a one-year suspended prison term for his role in the attempted blackmail of a former teammate over a sex tape, his lawyer told French sports daily L’Equipe on Saturday.
Benzema, 34 has also been fined 75,000 euros ($84,170) and ordered to pay former France winger Mathieu Valbuena 80,000 euros to cover legal costs and 150,000 euros in damages together with his three other co-accused.
“My client is exhausted by this. This withdrawal confirms the sentencing decision and (his) apparent guilt. It is a legal truth,” Benzema’s lawyer Hugues Vigier told L’Equipe newspaper.
“But this is not the reality. Karim Benzema will always claim his innocence in this case and he never wanted to participate in a blackmail operation against Mathieu Valbuena.”
Vigier also confirmed his client had dropped the appeal to Agence France Presse. Reuters could not immediately reach Vigier.
The president of the French Football Federation, Noel Le Graet, had previously said Benzema would not be excluded from the national team were he to be convicted and given the suspended sentence prosecutors wanted.
Benzema, who has been in fine form this season, was part of Real Madrid’s Champions League winning team last month, ending as the competition’s top scorer. He scored his 37th goal in 95 appearances for France on Friday during Les Bleus 2-1 loss to Denmark.
He is favorite to win this season’s Ballon d’Or award for the best player in the world.
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