Paris - The French Football Federation (FFF) on Thursday
indefinitely suspended star striker Karim Benzema because of criminal charges
of involvement in a sex-tape blackmail attempt against teammate Mathieu
Federation president Noel Le Graet said the suspension would
include the 2016 European Championship to be held in France -- which get
underway in exactly six months -- unless the case was settled.
"Karim Benzema will not be selected until the situation
changes, until there is something new in the case. It is a decision I took as
president of the federation," Le Graet told a press conference in Paris.
He added that either the charges had to be dropped or
Benzema -- the leading scorer among all current France internationals with 27
goals in 81 caps -- and Valbuena had to reconcile.
"If there is no change in March (when the next
internationals are held) he will not play, if there is no change for the Euro
he will not play," Le Graet declared.
Le Graet's announcement came just two days before the draw
for the Euro 2016 finals is held in Paris.
Le Graet said that the 27-year-old Real Madrid star was an
"extraordinary" player but that the FFF had to take account of public
Valbuena was left out of France's last game because of the
scandal, but he will be allowed to play again, the president added.
Also read: Benzema pleads ‘misunderstanding’ in sextape blackmail case
Benzema has been charged with complicity in the attempt to
blackmail 31-year-old Lyon midfielder Valbuena.
Valbuena has said the sex images were on a mobile telephone
that was stolen.
Three men have been detained for the cash demand to have the
The federation had faced strong pressure over the case.
The scandal has brought chaos to France's preparations for
the Euros, with even Prime Minister Manuel Valls calling for Benzema to be
excluded from the national team.
French Football League (LFP) president Frederic Thiriez also
said that "wearing the blue shirt is not something ordinary.
"An exemplary attitude must come before even
performance, if we want to win over hearts."
"The French team is regularly shaken by scandals which
feed a growing disillusionment among our compatriots," Thiriez complained.
French football's embarrassment has been increased because
Benzema is alleged to have approached Valbuena at a national training camp on
October 5 to encourage him to speak to the blackmailers, one of whom was a
close childhood friend.
Valbuena has said that Benzema "indirectly" urged
him to pay.
Benzema has replied that he is the target of
"persecution" and says he has the support of French coach Didier
Deschamps, while others have given him their backing.
"I hope for the French team and for the player, it (a
suspension) is not the decision that is taken," French legend Zinedine
Zidane this week.
"A player like Benzema is an important player for the
team, he can bring so much to the team and I only watch the sporting aspect.
"I hope we will look at that aspect and his personal
affair will settle quickly, which is the most important thing. In sporting
terms, to cope without a player like that can be complicated."For
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