(as)- The France Football Federation has provisionally suspended Karim Benzema from the France national football team following his implication in a case of alleged blackmail against Les Bleus teammate Mathieu Valbuena. Benzema is being investigated by the French judiciary on suspicion of attempted extortion over the emergence of sex tape featuring Valbuena, for which the France and Lyon midfielder was the subject of an alleged blackmail attempt.
As things stand, the FFF's provisional ban will mean that Benzema will not be considered for the France squad for the European Championships next summer unless the ongoing investigation absolves the Real Madrid striker of any collusion in the Valbuena case. Benzema has denied any knowledge of the affair and his lawyers have made an official request to appear before the investigating judge with their client and Valbuena in attendance to clear up the matter. Benzema is under a judicial order prohibiting him from making contact with Valbuena while the investigation is ongoing.
“It is a decision the FFF has taken; Benzema will not be available for selection for the moment. It is our decision and it has been accepted by France manager Didier Deschamps,” Le Graët said in a press conference after a meeting of the executive committee. The FFF president also said the decision would not change in between now and the European Championship if there are no new developments in the case beneficial to Benzema’s cause. Valbuena, meanwhile, is available for selection.
France manager Didier Deschamps does not have any matches to select a squad for until February, but with the European Championship just seven months away FFF president Noël le Graët has taken the decision to spare the France coach a potentially awkward decision. Both players were omitted from the most recent Les Bleus squad in November.