French forward Karim Benzema “will not be excluded” from the national team if he is found guilty in his trial of alleged blackmail, said Noel Le Graet, president of the French Football Association.
A French court is set to rule on November 24, with the prosecutor’s office recommending a 10-month suspended jail term and a €75,000 fine if Benzema is convicted of blackmailing his former French international teammate Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape.
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Benzema, who was not present at the trial that began last month due to professional commitments, denies any allegations.
“The coach remains responsible for the summons and Karim Benzema will not be excluded because of a possible legal penalty,” said Le Graet.
He also stressed that if Benzema were given a suspended jail term, the Real Madrid star would have the option to appeal.
“His selection or exclusion in the coming months with France will not be linked to this verdict,” Le Graet said. “I will never intervene… It’s up to coach Didier [Deschamps] to see if, from a sporting point of view, Benzema is in a position to play with Blues.”
Valbuena and Benzema both lost their places on the national team in the wake of the scandal dubbed the “sex tape affair.”
Benzema was recalled to the national team after a six-year absence prior to last summer’s European Championship after an impressive campaign with Madrid in which he scored 24 league goals.
The 33-year-old Benzema scored 38 goals for club and country in 2021.
He is one of the candidates to win the Ballon d’Or and Deschamps hopes Benzema will receive the honor on November 29.
“It’s a prestigious individual award,” said Deschamps. “Benzema is one of the candidates and I wish him that, not because I am his manager or because he is French, but because of everything he has achieved this year with his club and the French team.”