Karim Benzema handed shock RECALL by France boss Didier Deschamps for Euro 2020… having been exiled from international duty since 2015 after alleged sex-tape blackmail of former team-mate Mathieu Valbuena
- Karim Benzema’s inclusion in France’s squad has grabbed all the headlines
- Benzema has returned to the international fold after six years in wilderness
- He was exiled after his alleged role in sex-tape blackmail of Mathieu Valbuena
- Benzema has also previously accused Didier Deschamps of ‘bowing to racists’
France boss Didier Deschamps has sensationally included Karim Benzema in his Euro 2020 squad following six years in international wilderness.
The Real Madrid striker’s inclusion in France’s 26-man squad – which L’Equipe earlier on Tuesday suggested could be in the pipeline – ahead of friendlies against Wales and Bulgaria at the beginning of June has grabbed all the headlines following years in exile.
The experienced striker has been cast aside by manager Deschamps since 2015 following his alleged role in the sex-tape blackmail of former France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.
Karim Benzema has returned to the France squad thanks to his brilliant form for Real Madrid
Benzema is suspected of encouraging Valbuena to co-operate with blackmailers, who threatened to release an intimate video in which he featured.
Investigators who charged Benzema believe he was approached by a childhood friend to act as an intermediary and convince Valbuena to deal directly with the blackmailers. Instead, Valbuena informed the police.
When the story broke, Benzema faced a deluge of criticism and then-Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the former Lyon player had ‘no place’ in the national team. He had been unable to repair relations and return for his country until now.
It is understood that Benzema will go on trial from Wednesday, October 20 to Friday, October 22 this year. He denies any wrongdoing and four other people will also stand trial in the case.
The Real Madrid striker has been exiled by France manager Didier Deschamps since 2015
Benzema is suspected of having pressured former France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena (C) to pay blackmailers who threatened to reveal an intimate video in which Valbuena featured
Originally, it was reported that Benzema would face trial in January. At the time, he posted a screenshot of a story by L’Equipe about the update and asked his 36.9million Instagram followers when will the ‘farce’ come to an end.
Reacting to news of the trial, Benzema’s lawyer Sylvian Cormier described the decision as ‘absurd’.
Despite the case hanging over him, there have been calls for a while now to hand Benzema a recall to international duty following years of superb form for Spanish giants Real Madrid.
Benzema has produced one of his best campaigns this season with 29 goals in all competitions so far, and his fine form has now been rewarded.
His inclusion in the France squad has come as a surprise for more reason than one though.
L’Equipe reported earlier on Tuesday that Benzema was being considered for a shock return
After being left out of France’s Euro 2016 squad, the 33-year-old accused France boss Deschamps of ‘bowing to racists’ as their differences rumbled on.
‘He [Deschamps] has bowed to the pressure of a racist part of France,’ he said at the time.
‘He has to know that in France the extremist party reached the second round in the last two elections.
‘I do not know, therefore, whether it is a decision only for Didier because I’ve gotten along with him, with the president, everyone. I do not have a problem with anyone. I am with France and wish them well.’
But after six years in exile, problems have finally been put to one side and now Benzema could play a key role at Euro 2020.
More to follow…