Benzema to miss Euro 2016 after ban upheld

Reuters , Wednesday 13 Apr 2016

Karim Benzema
Real Madrid's french striker Karim Benzema (Photo: Reuters)

France striker Karim Benzema will miss this year's European soccer championship after his ban for his involvement in an alleged blackmail scandal was upheld by the French federation (FFF) on Wednesday.

Benzema was suspended indefinitely last December after being put under formal investigation by a judge for alleged blackmail over a sex video involving France team mate Mathieu Valbuena.

"The ability of the players to work together in unity, in and around the group, exemplary behaviour, and the preservation of the group are also taken into account by the all the Federation's selectors," the FFF said in a statement.

"As a result, (President) Noel Le Graet and (manager) Didier Deschamps decided that Karim Benzema will not take part in Euro 2016."

Real Madrid forward Benzema responded to the decision on Twitter.

"Unfortunately for me and all those who have always supported and put up with me I will not be selected for the Euros in France," the 28-year-old said.

Last month, the Versailles court of appeal confirmed an easing of restrictions on the movements of Benzema, who was previously barred from contacting Valbuena and others involved in the investigation.

Benzema, who is suspected of trying to blackmail fellow international Valbuena over the sex tape, denies any wrongdoing.

According to French media, Benzema mentioned the tape to Lyon forward Valbuena during a national team training session at Clairefontaine in October, 2015.

Benzema told police he was advising a friend about what to do in a difficult situation.

The Euro 2016 finals start on June with hosts France taking on Romania at the Stade de France. The tournament ends on July 10.

Without Benzema, France scored seven goals in their last two games in a 3-2 away win against the Netherlands and a 4-2 victory at home against Russia last month.

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