The France coach Didier Deschamps has admitted there is no prospect of him picking Karim Benzema for next year’s European Championship, while the case involving the alleged blackmail of a national team-mate remains unresolved.
The Real Madrid striker has been suspended indefinitely from the national team after being placed under formal investigation as a result of his involvement in an alleged plot to blackmail the Lyon midfielder Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape.
Noel Le Graet, the head of the French Football Federation, said last week: “Benzema is not able to be picked and he won’t be in June [at Euro 2016] if the situation does not change. It’s heartbreaking, I must say.
“We’re all embarrassed, we would have preferred to avoid such an affair. I’m unhappy about it firstly because he is good and because I’m convinced he was caught up in something completely crazy which went over his head.”
In an interview picked up by L’Equipe, Deschamps echoed these sentiments.
“For now, this is not possible,” he said when asked about the possibility of picking the striker.
“Benzema made a mistake, that’s obvious,” he said, before adding that the forward “did not assess the situation in which he found himself.
Of Valbuena, who he described as “the victim in this case” he stated: “I do not have to defend him because he is accused of nothing” and described him as an important player for France.
Benzema is being investigated over an alleged attempt by one of his friends to blackmail Valbuena over a sex tape. He told investigators he approached Valbuena on behalf of “a childhood friend” but claims he did not think he was doing anything wrong.
Valbuena has subsequently said that he felt he had been ‘taken for a fool’ by that someone he considered a friend. The pair were left out of France’s squad for the games with Germany and England last month.
Benzema’s lawyer has insisted his client was not party to any blackmail attempt.
“He played no part, I repeat no part, in any blackmail or attempted blackmail,” Sylvain Cormier said in November.
Benzema is under judicial control, which means he is not allowed to have any contact with Valbuena.