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Le Graet discusses Benzema's France future after Valbuena sex tape trial

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema will be allowed to continue with France even if he is found guilty in the Martin Valbuena sex tape trial, according to the French federation president.

Karim Benzema of Real Madrid gestures during the spanish league, La Liga Santander, football match played between Real Madrid and Rayo Vallecano at Santiago Bernabeu stadium on November 06, 2021, in Madrid, Spain.
AFP7 vía Europa Press

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema will not be excluded from the French national team regardless of the outcome of the Mathieu Valbuena sex tape trial, French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet has confirmed.

Benzema is to face trial over his alleged involvement in the attempted blackmail of former national team mate Mathieu Valbuena relating to a sex tape.

The 33-year-old striker had been exiled from the France team since 2015 over his alleged involvement in the case but was recalled to the side by coach Didier Deschamps before this summer’s Euro 2020 tournament, where he started all four of France’s games.

Enjoying the best form of his career, the Ballon d’Or contender has continued with Les Bleus following the tournament and, according to Le Graet, his continuity will not be affected by the result of the Valbuena trial, where the Madrid forward could face a suspended prison sentence if found guilty.

Karim Benzema with France coach Didier Deschamps at Euro 2020.
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Karim Benzema with France coach Didier Deschamps at Euro 2020.FRANCK FIFEPool via REUTERS

Le Graet on Benzema’s France situation

"Sanction Benzema with the national team? No. The coach will always be responsible for calling him up and he will not be excluded over any possible judicial sentence,” Le Graet told French outlet Le Parisien when asked about Benzema’s future with Les Bleus.

“Even if he receives a suspended prison sentence, he has the right to appeal against it. So whether he is called up or not in the coming months will not be linked to the judicial process.”

Le Graet added that any decision on Benzema’s inclusion would be down to the coach Didier Deschamps and would be based on sporting merit.

“I will never intervene and say that we will not accept Benzema in the national team. After that, it is up to Deschamps to consider whether, from a sporting point of view, he is fit to be called up with Les Bleus,” he said.

Antoine Griezmann and Karim Benzema at France training.
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Antoine Griezmann and Karim Benzema at France training.Getty Images

Le Graet on Deschamps

Le Graet also discussed the future of Deschamps, who has come under pressure following France’s elimination from Euro 2020 by Switzerland at the last-16 stage, saying it was neither in his or the coach’s plans to renew after the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

“If France qualifies for the World Cup, the future of Deschamps does not change at all. We are close enough to discussing his future in due course,” he said.

“But it is not in my plans to renew him now, nor in his. Renew him after the World Cup? I don't know. Deschamps himself said that he would like to coach a club. He is not going to be in charge of the France team for 50 years. Unless we have a very good World Cup and he tells me that he wants to stay, then I will not be the one to deny him.”

Benzema’s former Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has been tipped as the hot favorite to replace Deschamps after the 2022 World Cup should Deschamps not continue.