Real Madrid have backed their striker Karim Benzema after he was placed under formal investigation in connection with an alleged attempt to blackmail fellow French international Mathieu over sex-tape.
Benzema arrived back in the Madrid on Thursday evening after appearing before a judge in France.
Investigators in France will now determine whether Benzema played a role in the alleged blackmail attempt against the France and Lyon midfielder Mathieu Valbuena over the sex tape.
Benzema was left out of France’s squad for the forthcoming friendly matches against Germany and England.
“Karim Benzema returned to training this evening at Real Madrid City after making a statement to the French authorities in Versailles,” Real Madrid said.
“The Real Madrid president, Florentino Pérez, held a meeting with the player in which he gave him his full support and expressed his confidence that his actions were in good faith and that he is completely innocent.
“The club values and recognises the professional commitment, the displays of camaraderie with his team-mates and the impeccable attitude he has shown as a core member of the first-team squad for the more than six seasons that he has been a part of Real Madrid.”
Benzema’s lawyer had earlier insisted that Benzema was innocent and took no part in any blackmail.
“He played no part, I repeat no part, in any blackmail or attempted blackmail,” Sylvain Cormier said.
The Versailles prosecutor had said the alleged crime of conspiracy to blackmail could carry a custodial sentence of at least five years.
A source close to the investigation told AFP that Benzema had admitted that he had spoken to the player who was the alleged target of the sex tape.
“Karim Benzema has admitted speaking to [him] at the request of a childhood friend, who was approached by three blackmailers who were in possession of the sex tape,” the source told AFP.
“Benzema said he had agreed with his childhood friend on what he should say so that his team-mate would negotiate exclusively with him.”