Karim Benzema has been suspended indefinitely from the France national team due to his involvement in the sex-tape blackmail case concerning his team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.
The French football federation president, Noël Le Graët, said that Benzema would remain suspended until the case was resolved, calling it a “heart-breaking” decision.
“I have decided, it is a decision from the president of the French federation and not from the executive committee or the ethics committee,” Le Graët told a press conference. “As long as the judicial system has not decided that everything that has been published is excessive, the federation will not change its mind.
“I have informed [coach Didier] Deschamps. Benzema will not be available for selection in March, nor for Euro 2016 if the situation has not evolved.”
Le Graet’s ruling appears to mean Benzema cannot be called up by the national team until the case has passed through the judicial system.
Benzema is facing charges of conspiracy to blackmail relating to an alleged extortion plot over a sex tape featuring Valbuena. The Real Madrid striker has admitted involvement in the case, revealing he approached Valbuena about the tape on behalf of “a childhood friend”, but claims he did not think he was involved in the plo to extort money from his team-mate..
The French prime minister Manuel Valls had suggested Benzema “has no place” on the national team, days after Valbuena said he felt he had been taken for a fool by someone he regarded as a friend. The pair were left out of France’s squad for the games with Germany and England last month.
Benzema, who denies any wrongdoing, has also been placed under judicial supervision, meaning he cannot communcate with Valbuena during the investigation.
Benzema’s lawyer, Sylvain Cormier, has insisted his client is innocent, saying: “He took no part, I state this again – no part – in the blackmail or blackmail attempts.”
Benzema’s club, Real Madrid, have stood by the striker, saying he should be treated as innocent until proven otherwise.